This sign has been doing the rounds on social media for a little while now. It’s proven to be very popular with a lot of shares and engagement. It’s thought provoking, that’s for sure, and sends a strong message.

But when you consider it a little more deeply you discover it comes with a problem. So what now? If it’s really that important, tell me how? Give me the tools I need to do something about it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if every message or inspirational quote you came across was linked to the relevant information to show you ‘how’ to do whatever it is promoting. In this particular case: How do you become coachable? What does a great teammate do?

So here are 5 things you could do as a parent to help your child be a better athlete.


Spend a small part of your evening asking your kids questions about their school day. Use open ended questions and most importantly be prepared to listen intently to their reply. Respond genuinely with more questions aimed at deepening the conversation.

Thinking critically is an essential skill to getting better at something, and any practice you can help with at home will make it easier for them to do in their sport.


Respect is a two way street. Any relationship requires effort from all parties involved for it to be successful.

Just as the athlete should respect the coach, the same applies for the coach.. With that said, here is a simple thing you can do help your child be a respectful learner. Emphasise the importance of good time management in your family.

It’s annoying for the coach and the other athletes when one or two individuals decide that 5 minutes late to training is OK. It’s not.

So make it a habit to turn up on time, or better yet, 5 minutes early.

A great teammate

Evidence of a great teammate lies in what you do for others.

Constructive communication is a great skill to learn. Teams need people who speak up and express their thoughts and ideas clearly, directly, honestly, and with respect for others in the team.

Such a team member does not shy away from making a point but makes it in the best way possible — in a positive, confident, and respectful manner.

Encourage your child to have an opinion during family conversations, or when making decisions on things. And always ask why? This will give them invaluable practice at the art of reasoned thought. And they will really appreciate the fact that you asked them for their view in the first place.

Mentally Tough (through building resilience)

“It’s the top two inches that counts”. “It’s all in the head”. Heard these before? Of course you have. Mental toughness in a skill, and, like any skill, the only way to get good at it is to put it many hours or practice.

But what to practice you ask?

Great question. It’s multifaceted, but one thing to do is embrace the mistakes your child makes. In fact, encourage them. The only way they way to learn is to try new things, which invariably ends up in mistakes.

A great Michael Jordon quote comes to mind, “You miss all the shots you don’t take”. The most important thing is that your child learns from them.

It’s the coaches job to enable this but as a parent you can help by asking your child questions about the things that went well and not so well during practice or competition.

Get them thinking to come up with the answers on their own and suggest they write things down to reinforce their learning. Don’t just tell them. This is not an effective way of going about it. Nor is having a conversation about it in the car on the way home.

Before you talk give them some time to emotionally wind down and reflect themselves on what just happened.

Giving it your best

Putting effort into something is much easier when you’re having success doing it. It makes sense huh.

If your child is grinding away at something without any recognition of achievement, the motivation to give their best will significantly diminish.

Your child’s coach plays a crucial role in this. Have a conversation with them about their definition of success. What does it look like for the team, and your child as an individual? They should be able to clearly define it, and how your child will know when they get there.

Look for red flags that indicate success is going to be hard for your child to identify, or if there’s no guarantee that it will even happen. Hint: winning on Saturday is not a good definition of success.

You play a vital part in the education of your child as an athlete. The more you can learn about what to do outside of the sporting environment to help them, the better their chances of getting more out of their time spent doing it.