Vicariously Living Through Your Athlete? Coach and Parent Edition
Signs you are living vicariously through your athlete’s sport and how-to fix it fast to avoid further damage.
As always, I guarantee that the recommendations in this article will help your son or daughter perform at peak potential on and off the field. It is typically hard to draw direct correlation between what I write about and how it will ultimately help your athlete play better. BUT based on thousands of data points, I assure you that it will.
SIGNS YOU ARE IN DANGER OF OR ARE ALREADY LIVING VICARIOUSLY THROUGH YOUR ATHLETE:
1. You get way too proud when your athlete performs well
Talking excessively about it to other parents or at work the next day
Posting to social media (ever thought about why we make the posts we do?)
Being overly excited and happy for them simply because they scored a lot or made standout plays (which leads to them feeling defeated or worth-less when the statistics don’t add up to your standards)
2. You get way too upset when your athlete does poorly
Feeling embarrassed about their mistakes and errors
Feeling mad/frustrated with their performance
Worrying about what other parents are thinking
3. You aggressively seek out new teams, showcases, clinics, and recruiters without much pressure from your athlete
This is one of the most challenging articles I’ve ever been called to write. But it is important. My hope is you read it with an open mind, you do not feel condemned in any way, but instead you realize that this is bringing to light a situation that could positively impact the rest of your life AND your athletes life.
I’ve never seen a happy adult who truly loves their life AND gets overly upset or overly proud of their athletes sport failures or accomplishments.
In fact, I do not think it is possible for a person to be genuinely happy with THEIR life and at the same time live vicariously through another’s.
Why would they? It doesn’t make logical sense.
3 Ways to Right The Wrong and Restore The Relationship
1. Go to work harder on YOUR happiness and self-leadership than you do on your athletes.
Is it not easier for me to look at someone else’s shortcomings or opportunities and say, “Do this, do that, change this, change that”?
I used to catch myself doing that to family members until I read the verse in Matthew 7:3-5 where Jesus is reminding the people to work on their own shortcomings and to “remove the log in their own eye” before telling others what they need to fix.
Leadership is influence. Influence is amplified when someone sees you walk the talk. For more on personal happiness check out this video by one of my mentors→ Brendon's Happiness Secrets
2. Admit you’ve been doing 1, 2, or 3 TO YOUR ATHLETE, and to another parent.
Talk about courage, Talk about a parent with integrity and commitment to the long-term well-being and confidence of their son or daughter. Talk about a leader, a true, level 5 leader.
This step is the simplest, but requires getting way out of your comfort zone. You can do it. The worst that will happen is your ego will be temporarily hurt, but that will quickly go away.
“John, I’m sorry for the way I have acted when it comes to your sports. I get way too worked up. And I only seem to get really excited for you or compliment you when you play well. But that’s not how I really feel. I care about your effort, I care about your attitude, I care more about you controlling the things you can control and letting the results take care of themselves. I will be better about this. I am sorry.”
BOOM. Sport-Relationship restored.
News headline: Kid witnesses more courageous, admirable, heroic act by parent that they have ever seen.
Most importantly, they just learned firsthand the valuable lessons of vulnerability and humility. Foundational traits of a great leader. Want your kid to be a leader someday? Model what great leadership looks like. You’ve got this.
You need to ask your kid for feedback.
“How am I doing?”
You need to talk through this with at least one other parent. You need other people thinking like you now think.
Birds of a feather flock together. There is strength in numbers. Difficult climbs are easier when you have a climbing buddy. You are going AGAINST THE GRAIN here, you need support!
If I can help in any way, reach out. It takes a village to raise a child. We all do better in life when we have a coach, a mentor, a guide.
Dedicated to your athletes success,
Coach Andrew Simpson