Why a strong parental mindset matters

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I was really encouraged to see Trent Alexander Arnold recently raising awareness of football academy players who are dropped, and the impact it has on their mental health and future life choices. At many clubs ‘player care’ is a familiar term; but as Trent points out they could all do better, especially when players are transitioning out of Academy life. This applies to all sports, not just football, but young academy football players seem to be getting a raw deal.  Most often they have no plan B and are traumatised by leaving the world that has consumed their formative years.

Talking of trauma, let’s not ignore the ripple effects of players being dropped. A missing piece is parental support and care. Many Academy players have parents or carers that have made massive lifestyle sacrifices to get them to where they are now. They may have relocated, changed jobs, dropped friends or hobbies, reduced shifts, or stopped chasing their dream job as they don’t have time to do everything. Then when it goes wrong for their child the trauma lands at their door. They are forced to recalibrate and pick up the pieces of their own lives too.

Parents are where our children often bring the rawest of their emotions, and the worst of their behaviour as we are their safe space. This can be really tough as we are 100% invested in the journey also and we feel what they feel. It is hard to separate our emotions from their emotions and the old adage rings true. ‘We are only as happy as our unhappiest child’. So parents need coping strategies too.

I believe the impact of strong and appropriate parental support on the player journey is often unrecognised. Just because a child has a talent for the game will not always mean they will also have a talent for life. It is the parents who set the foundations and family culture to create athletes who develop the mindset to thrive in sport alongside being healthy, happy, well-rounded individuals. This is crucial for survival when they transition away from sport.

As a consultant for @ThirdEYE International Sports Consultancy  I’m interested in having more conversations about how the area of parental support in sport can be improved. The mindset of the parents hugely impacts the player, which impacts their performance, which impacts the club. If we can get this bit right, everybody wins.