Courage is an essential ingredient needed for all athletes to play to their potential, reach their goals, build confidence, and enjoy what they’re doing in their sport.
It is often forged in the unpleasant moments, the challenges, and the disappointments. It’s in these moments that sports parents often hider the exact thing that athletes need – courage!
Life and Leadership Coach, Meghan Patiño, speaks into this important topic in this episode. She shares with parents how to cultivate courage for themselves and their athletes when dealing with challenges in sports and in life as well as the three mistakes parents make when interacting with their athletes.
What is Courage?
Courage means no matter what- whether I win or lose I am enough. It’s the attitude that “Yes I am imperfect and worthy of love and belonging.”
Courage is an offramp from the “I’m not enough” cycle. In sports this is often triggered when dealing with a team loss, a personal mistake, criticism from a coach or teammates, or when an athlete compares themselves to others.
As parents and coaches, you are often the person your athlete is coming to when they are dealing with their mental gremlins. Our response can either support your athlete to build mental muscles for courage muscles, or continue the shame-spiral. The best thing to do when the “I am not enough” cycle takes over is for parents and coaches to respond with our own courage, compassion and connection*
*This is based off of the shame-resilience research conducted by Brene Brown.
WARNING: Don’t use this content as a way to shame yourself as a parent or a coach yourself! We’re all human and imperfect, so approach this with some curiosity and playfulness. Where might this show up? What might I take with me to explore a new approach?
3 Top Mistakes Parents Make That Hinder Courage
These are all survival responses that often were formed from when you were a child so be compassionate with yourself if you recognize some of these patterns in yourself.
1.Disappointment Response– You’re too disappointed in your athlete’s performance and their imperfections to be able to show up for them when they are vulnerable. Often this is because of a misplaced sense of your own worthiness- it’s sneaky how the performance of your athlete becomes a pillar for your own sense of worthiness.
2. Make it Better Response – “It wasn’t that bad. You’re perfect. Everyone loves you.” The tendency can be to make it better so you don’t have to be uncomfortable. Harm of this is the message that “It’s not ok to not be ok.” Misses the opportunity to learn how to work through hard emotions.
3. Blame Response – “How could you let this happen?” “How could I have let this happen? I should of (fill in the blank)” “What were you thinking?” or “Who was that kid on the other team? I’m going to beat their a$$.” You’re uncomfortable with vulnerability so you blame yourself, your athlete or their opponent for the imperfect result.
3 Ways to Embrace Brave Parenting (and cultivate courage for you and your athlete)
These responses come from your inner sage. This is the part of you that is deeply rooted and able to embrace strengths with struggles.
1.Courage– Tap into your own struggles with worthiness so you genuinely connect to their experience. Acknowledge their courage in sharing what’s really going on for them.
2.Compassion– The word compassion means “to suffer with.” As parents and coaches one of the hardest things is being with your athletes when they are in their heavy emotions. We aren’t there to fix or help, but to hold their hands as they wade through their feelings. This supports them to tap into their own resiliency to be able to do hard things.
3.Connection– is about being seen, heard and valued. “That’s really hard. I’ve done that before and I hate that feeling.”
There you have it! What courage is & why it’s essential for our athletes, the top 3 mistakes that hinder courage, and how you can embrace brave parenting to cultivate courage for yourself and your athlete!
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