Why a "No Days Off" mentality suck for parents (Part 3)

In part 3 of this series on Why a “No Days Off” mentality sucks, we are looking at the effect this attitude can have on parents…

Parents can play a crucial role in the development of youth athlete and also carry a large amount of the effort in making things work. Parents often serve as the team bus driver, psychologist, nutritionist, analyst and kitman. This can be a big load to bear and can have big consequences on

  1. Finances
  2. Time
  3. Emotional Fatigue
  4. Physical fatigue


Sport can be expensive!

Let’s face it, most sports cost money. This varies alot depending on a number of factors. The number of children participating in sport could double, triple or quadruple some costs. Different sports require different levels of financial investment. For example it might be relatively inexpensive to get the equipment to take up swimming, however triathlon may be very expensive! Another important factor is whether the athlete is competing at local, regional, national or international level. If you are the parent of a high level athlete then you may be expected to pay for some travel to representative training, camps or even competition..
A list of potential sporting costs could include:

  • registration fees
  • coaching fees
  • competition entry fees/match fees
  • equipment
  • kit
  • travel
  • physiotherapy/rehab

It’s important that coaches recognise that there is not a bottomless purse of finance for sporting activities. As such, parents may be breathing sigh of relief when the offseason comes and they aren’t having to front up travel costs, match fees or coaching fees!

Parents’ time is precious!

Parents invest a significant amount of time in their children’s sporting activities. This can include travelling to/from training sessions and matches. Not to mention watching the training sessions or matches themselves. Even more so, if the parent has children participating in two or three different sports.
Again, the investment of time depends upon how supportive and interested the parent themselves is. At this point I have to say that I have nothing but the utmost respect for parents of swimmers. They have the same travel time constraints as other parents BUT often this is in the darkness of early morning!
It’s important that we recognise how much of a burden our sport can be on the parent’s time. I have heard the comments of parents lamenting the loss of their saturday morning sleep in due to their child’s sporting activity. I have also heard the joy in a swimming parents voice when they celebrated a month off and the added time in bed that would create!

Emotional Fatigue
Parents often pick up the emotional pieces after a n injury, loss, poor performance or disappointment. The emotional effects of sport are not isolated to the time on the pitch or court. They carry over into the journey home and subsequent hours after. Additionally, parents also deal with the hyperactive or over-excited children on the night of a “big” game or trial. Injury can also have a big emotional affect on the child, reducing confidence and self-esteem, which may require more input from the parent than usual.
The emotional rollercoast of a child in sport is often steadied by the parent, but not without emotional cost. We all know the feeling of being drained after dealing with someone in a highly emotive state. If this is a weekly occurrence, or you have two individuals on the roller coaster, this can be a traumatic experience!! What about the added loads of dirty rugby kit to be washed, cricket equipment to get together or those punctured racing tyres that need fixing? They can be another straw onto the camel’s back!
Again, if this was your situation, imagine the relief of knowing there will be a pause for a month or two in the summer!
The favourite hobby of parents – SLEEP!

Physical Fatigue
Early morning car journeys for swimming sessions, soccer practice or rugby matches all take their toll. Many of our athletes have younger siblings. Anyone who has been around young kids knows one sick child means the clock is ticking before the sister/brother gets it! This inevitably means sleepless nights in conjunction with the early starts! Easy to see how parents could be excited about reclaiming their saturday mornings!
Often parents are also cajoled in becoming the child’s personal coach and pulled out for sessions in the back garden or local park. Add to this that parents will stand in the sun, rain, wind or snow to support their child and it’s easy to see how physical fatigue can set in, as a result of the child/children’s sporting activities.
In conclusion, we need to be very aware of how the parents of young athletes are investing their finances, time, emotions and physicality into their children’s sporting activities. Just like our athletes needing proper sleep, recovery and training/life balance, so do the parents. They often long for their saturday morning off, or the promise of the off-season returning the hours of sleep lost. Add to this the financial relief they might feel when realising the season is coming to an end, holding a pause for sporting costs.
For these reasons, it’s important that we appreciate the input parents give to their child’s sport. Taking this for granted and scheduling extra sessions, carrying on training through the off season, or starting pre-season early, may not be fully appreciated as you might expect! We need to respect that parents appreciate training sessions running to time and not dragging on, because they have to get home and cook for 4 people! For these reasons we must be aware that a “No Days Off” mentality sucks not only for athletes and coaches, but for parents too!
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