The role of parenting in the career of a champion athlete

What role do parents and family play in the career of a champion athlete? Here are a few points on what is a much larger topic. It is primarily the parent who introduces a child to a particular sport. It is a parent who takes that child to practice, to a competition and who is there to pickup the pieces or to listen to the stories of success.

Consider Lindsey Vonn, one of the greatest ski racers(athletes) of all time. Her father moved the entire family to Vail, Colorado so that Lindsey could have the best opportunity to become a ski racer. They made this move with very limited resources. Yet, like a great champion athlete her family put all of the cards on the table and essentially went for the gold medal and their gamble succeeded.

In reference to the move, Vonn was quoted in a recent issue of ESPN The Magazine article, February 9, 2018, by Wayne Drehs......"At that point, I knew I had to succeed. Failure was not an option." For some, this parental decision may have been too much, but for Vonn and her family things appear to have worked as planned. A parental decision that worked for Lindsey might have been too much pressure for another aspiring athlete in similar circumstance.

With respect to parental attitude, Vonn's father was referenced as saying, in the same article: "There are two places in a race, first and last." In looking from the outside at Vonn's career it would seem that she took this philosophy to heart.

Parents and family play a critical role in the athlete's career. How a parent responds to the young budding athlete in periods of success and failure, to a parents personal philosophy, to how the parent makes it possible to participate in a sport are all fundamental building blocks in a champion's career. The Olympic athletes we are now watching in Pyeongchang all have a story of parental and family support.

Written by : Steve Victorson