Ski parents, like any sports parents, sometimes get a bad rap.
Weíve all seen stories about overbearing mums and dads foisting their unrealised dreams upon their offspring. We may know some of these parents or have behaved in a similar manner ourselves. Sometimes the results are good and an athletic star is born. But more often the results are terrible, resulting in burnout, resentment or worse complete disengagement from the sport.
Today, rather than focusing on bad ski parenting, weíre focusing on the good stuff. Here are my top tips for being a good ski or snowboard parent:
A Good Ski ParentÖ
Parents do a lot of talking, thinking and acting on behalf of their young children. However, when it comes to sports, itís good to let children call some of the shots.
We experienced this when our 3 year-old tried skiing and it didnít take. We were crushed. Weíd been waiting for him to learn to ski since the day he was born. Putting aside our disappointment, we tried again the following winter. This time skiing took.
Had we pushed him initially, it might have driven him away from the sport entirely.
2. Pays Attention:
If your children join a ski or snowboard team of any sort, pay attention to what they are saying and what they are not.
Are they having fun? Is practice something they look forward to? Do they like their teammates? What do they say about the coaches? If your child doesnít like answering questions, might this be a warning something is wrong?
Even the most enthusiastic young skiers may find that competition detracts from their enjoyment of snowsports. If enthusiasm is waning, find a neutral way to talk about how your child feels. Weíve found that chairlifts are a great place to strike up a conversation.
When talking to your child, put your feelings aside. Focus on your child and respect his or her opinions. You may have loved your years as a ski racer, but that doesnít mean your child feels the same. Donít worry about what other families or the coaches may think. And if you discover an issue that is troubling or needs to be addressed, speak to those in charge.
3. Supports Many Activities:
Donít try to force your children to be one-dimensional with an all-or-nothing focus on skiing. Itís been shown that kids who participate in several sports are often more successful than those who specialize in just one sport.
Allow your children to follow their dreams. While itís important to respect a commitment your child makes to a team, allow time for other activities, like science fair, basketball, biking and band. Ski racing should be something fun, not an obligation that comes at the cost of other pursuits.
4. Pitches In:
Ski racing is a massive undertaking requiring many hands to set and tear down courses, run the timing, watch gates, provide lunch to volunteers and officials, sort and hand out bibs, and get everyone to and from the mountain, sometimes during bad weather.
As a ski parent, you can participate by volunteering and helping with logistics. Many ski parents find that pouring their efforts into the team, rather than their individual child, helps them keep perspective and feel involved.
5. Lets Coaches Coach:
Especially if youíre a skier and former racer yourself, itís tempting to coach your children ó even to the point of contradicting or overruling the official coaches.
Unless itís a matter of safety or ethics, let the coaches coach and donít interfere. Technique and equipment have changed since you were a kid. The coaches know what theyíre doing.
While it can be hard to stop yourself from offering advice prior to a race, or worse ó criticism after a race ó donít do it.
Cheer for your child. Hug your child. Love your child. Thatís your most important role.
Hailing from Colorado (USA) Kristen Lummis, or as she is better known, the Brave Ski Mom, is an avid skier and true family mum in every sense of the word. www.thebraveskimom.com