So Your Kid Wants to Be the Next Sidney Crosby?
Whether your child wants to be an Olympic athlete in his or her favourite sport, or simply wants to try a new sport that they've seen on television (snowboard cross, anyone?), we -- their parents -- must support this enthusiasm in every possible way.Tips for raising an athlete, after the jump...
When kids start out in any sport, it's a no-brainer; they have to have fun. At the younger ages (4-12), I always promote multilateral development. Kids should play as many sports as possible to develop many skills and abilities. As they get older, they can specialize and focus on their favourite sport.
Be Realistic and Supportive
In our generation of instantaneous gratification, our kids will have a rude awakening when it comes to the many sacrifices, commitment, hard work and discipline required to become an Olympian. In most cases, that still isn't enough. It also takes luck, opportunity and networking. The challenge for us as parents is to continue to support and motivate, while maintaining the reality that not everyone makes.
What it Takes to Be an Olympian
A recent article came out on an ice hockey superstar named Patrick Kane. He is an American who plays professionally in the NHL and also played for team USA during the Games. He's had an amazing career already and is only 19 or 20 years old. The article told the story of the commitment he made to become a hockey superstar. The main point of the article was to show that Patrick's training regimen was strict and that he had to stick with it every day. As well, Patrick's parents dedicated their entire lives and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars towards his development. It was a gamble that has become a great investment, as he will soon be earning $7 million a year. However, the reality is that many parents spend a lot of money and time and do not get the financial return.
Similar stories of figure skaters, hockey players, skiers and the like are repeated around the world. Whenever you hear interviews of athletes recounting how they "made it," it always comes down to having passion, drive to always improve and having tireless family support. So really, you have to love what you do, try your best and then leave the rest up to fate.
For parents with kids who are passionate about sports, take note that we all become taxi drivers and motivators. We should take advantage of the time together with our kids in the car on the way to a game or practice. Tell your kids to turn off the iPods and enjoy those moments together. I still cherish the time I spent with my parents on the way to games and tournaments. It can become a great bonding experience, especially for kids with hectic schedules.
Reggie Reyes is a certified kinesiologist and personal trainer. He is the president and founder of pt4kids a company that creates specialized training programs for kids all ages and fitness levels.