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The Present Your Athlete REALLY Needs

In large, humans crave Presence more than Presents.

Parents, your athlete wants your presence. And this article is going to be eye opening, especially towards the end.

They want to drive home in the car without hearing a bunch of feedback, criticism, coaching advice, etc. (there are some exceptions: I know a FEW kids who really value their parents coaching advice and crave their feedback, but it is not the norm. Teach them YOUNG to leave "work at work" by not talking about the game after the game)

They don’t crave rewards for straight A’s (although they will say it’s a nice value add).

They don’t want monetary rewards or for you to post a facebook post of their accomplishment (this recognition is a different form of a “present” that 99% of student-athletes don’t even see because they don’t have’s not cool ;-))

The first question you need to ask yourself is, “Why does my mind go to presents for recognition and reward?”

Here are my two theories on what parents THINK presents do:


  1. Presents give them more motivation for them to give their best effort  
  2. They are quick, easy ways to show them I recognize and appreciate their efforts

But here is the reality based on many conversations with kids about this topic:

*The present on the line creates massive pressure in the mind of the athlete.  

They believe that to make you proud of them, they need to achieve the specific outcomes you have created the reward based on. It does NOT motivate them to give a better effort.

Effort begins to mean less and less to them as they receive rewards like the following:

*Every three point basket equals a dollar

*Every steal or takeaway on the lacrosse field equals a buck

*If you get 1st team all conference, $100

Parents, please trust me. I have talked to your athletes. They do not crave presents.

Presents put the focus on the outcome rather than on the process.

And we do not want anymore athletes in the world who believe the only way they are worthy, great, or accepted is if they achieve specific outcomes.


  • Presents based on outcomes and results are temporary fixes that create resentment and strained parent-athlete relationships.

When you give “presents”, it ends up doing the opposite of your creates pressure and expectation.

Presence IS where it is at!

Show up to every game, put your phone on silent, and just watch them play.

I have asked athletes before, “Do you notice when your parents are on their phones or socializing the whole game rather than watching?”

Yep. They do.

On the drive home, just let them know you are there for them if they want to talk about the game.

No advice, no criticism. Tell them that you are there for THEM.

And athletes, your parents crave YOUR presence too. Put the social media down when you are at home in the same room as your parents. Be PRESENT if they want to talk to you and ask you questions.

This article is coming from a place where I am still in deep reflection on my dad and I’s relationship.

He showed up to every game. He never tried to coach me. He never had selfish-motives or insecurities that led to him living vicariously through my athletic performance.

And you know what? I became a 1st team all conference, high scorer, MVP caliber athlete. Not saying it is BECAUSE he decided he would just be present and be my dad, but I can guarantee you I would have resented the sport and not risen up to the levels I rose to joyfully.

Do you want your athlete to become a high performing, high scoring, peak performing player at the expense of their joy for the sport?

I know you don’t. So make sure you focus on Presence, not Presents.

And athletes, do not take your time with your parents for granted. I did, for a long time. All throughout elementary, middle, high school, and college. It wasn’t until I was in my mid 20’s that I started thinking about being more present and engaged when I was around my parents.


Humans crave presence, not presents. Presents are a bonus :-)

Dedicated to making the sports world better,

Coach Andrew

P.S. Just for checking out this blog post you can now get Free Access to my Online Mini-Course: Dealing With Success Like a Champion--> FREE Athlete Stronger Mindset Course It is a $97 value and come the new year we will start charging for it, so grab it now!

Andrew Simpson

Chief Vision Officer
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