In full disclosure, this parent has been “that” intense sports parent. Football and baseball tend to lend to getting wound up. By nature, worried and stressed could easily be stamped on this forehead. Age or wisdom or experience all come with time and learning from mistakes. There is a tremendous need for archers to work on mental management programs. How about the parents? This is what has been learned from age, wisdom, and MANY mistakes. (The oldest son is 21 and was an avid sports player prior that multiple football injuries stole a professional athletic future in baseball.)
Mental management begins at home. With this subject in mind, this parent just purchased a book on mental management called Parenting Champions. Having briefly skimmed through the first chapter that was allowed to preview, the purchase button was clicked. This is not a recommendation, yet. However, as a parent, mental management for the young are taught by the parents or adult influences in the home. Might be worth your time to do research and find something worth reading.
When an archer starts competing, the learning curves are huge. The preparation begins at home. Starting with managing expectations from the beginning will carry into tournaments. Allowing archery time to be archery time. These days, this archery parent is no longer hands on due to the archer’s age and experience level. At the beginning, it is consuming. It is important to let the archer decided to talk about archery. For this archery parent, it was helping the archer NOT to be all archery. Even insisting on non-archery time can establish healthy mental management. It is never good to let any single subject to consume the mind, body, and soul.
Goals versus wins. Goal setting as a parent is equally as important as the archer. Goals at the beginning are hitting the gold. These are just joyful sweet times. When celebrations of firsts come easily. Celebrations as the archer progress can be harder to find at times. As a parent, the goals must not be centered on the score or placement. Those are the archers’ goals. What are the parent’s goals? Watching and being there is first and foremost. Encouraging all archers should be the next. Allow your archer successes to be theirs and not yours. This archery parent concerns were more about behavior, handling stress, and ensuring there is fun being had by the archer. Learning to sit back and let the “game” play out was hard. Facial expression control is essential. Not letting the mistake or bad shots effect you will help the archer move forward. Prepare yourself for what is need to keep you zen”ish” is huge.
This archery parent started closer to the archer. Young archers need more support. There was a time that staying close is essential. However, the closer you are the more you have to stay in control. No anger, no bragging, no yelling, no swearing, no complaining, no coaching while they are on the line shooting. That leaves only good and fun to be had by all. Make friends! Archery parents need archery parents. Archery tournaments are high-stress long days, friends always make it easier. No matter the outcome, arrows fall were arrows fall. Can’t control or change those. Remember to leave archery on the field. Take the friends with you.
Taking time for yourself! Obviously, if the archer is young, they have to go where you go. However, there are always ways to unplug. At the end of each archery tournament day, this parent ensures everything that is needed for the next day is done, then no more archery. No talking about archery, unless it is an essential question needed to prepare or the archer wants to talk. Chilling on the hotel bed can be the best medicine. This past year, writing this blog has helped to address the archery bubbling up in me, while not spilling it onto the archer. Additionally, yoga has been added (if the archer is not watching). Stick the feet in the hot tub while the archer went swimming at the hotel pools was a favorite way to de-stress. A great book on tape or to read is essential. Headphones and music that centers your soul could be a lifesaver. Take your zen with you. Breathing. Good old deep breath and let it go. Repeat as necessary. Pray.
The best advise this archery parent can give to ensure life on and off the field or range is healthy is focused on being the parent and not the coach. This is not always an option. Then, define your coaching times and your parent times clearly. Allow others to coach your archer if possible. Lastly, would be to set and establish rules ahead of time. At every tournament prior to leaving, this archery parent would set expectations for behavior on and off the field. Then, if issues arise they can be quickly addressed and reminded. Essentially, who the young person is becoming far out ways the score on the field.