Avoiding Burnout as the Parent of a Student-Athlete

Parents of young athletes face burnout too. Strategies like delegating tasks, staying active, and sending kids to camps can help avoid exhaustion.

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As parents to children who play sports, we want to be on top of our metaphorical game for our kids. While practices and games can take their toll on our children, taking care of our young athletes can also cause some exhaustion for parents as well. Sports parent burnout is real, but there are strategies, such as sending our kids to sleepaway tennis camps or other sports camps, that can help us refresh and be at our best.

1. Take a time out. Do you attend every single practice and game? While your intentions are good in always being present at your child’s events, you need a break sometimes, too. Can your spouse, parents, sibling, or another team parent sometimes take your place? You could even consider creating a rotation or schedule for who takes your child to practice or games, and this will also benefit your child because they’ll be on a predictable routine.

2. Don’t be afraid to delegate. Did you volunteer to be a team parent? That’s great! But sports seasons can be long, so don’t try to take on every single responsibility if it’s possible to delegate some tasks. It’s okay to ask for help, and there may even be another team parent or another family member in your child’s life who would love the opportunity to pitch in.

3. Stay in shape. Just because you’re dedicating so much time to your child’s athletic endeavors doesn’t mean that yours should be put on hold. Staying active is a great way to keep yourself physically and mentally fit, and it also sets a great example for your child. There may even be opportunities where you can train with your child, which doubles as bonding time!

4. Don’t needlessly go into debt. The most cutting-edge equipment and the most expensive shoes or clothing won’t make your child a better athlete. While having the correct equipment is obviously important, it’s counterintuitive to overspend when a less expensive option will accomplish the same goal.

5. Bond with team parents. Social connections are critical. Your child will enjoy the bonds they form with their teammates, so it’s also important to bond with the other team parents. Not only will your relationship with other team parents satisfy your need for social connections, but they could also benefit you if an emergency arises, and your child needs a ride to or from a practice or game or if you need help with your team parent responsibilities.

6. Let your child’s coach do their job. It is your job to be your child’s parent, and it is the coach’s job to be their coach. Not only does coaching your child lead to added stress for them, but it’s unnecessary stress for you as well. Support your child, be their cheerleader, and be there for them when they need to vent. But, let your child’s coach do the instruction and provide constructive criticism. As Lindsey Hamilton, Head of Mental Performance for IMG Academy, explains, "With the expert coaches we have on staff throughout all of the sports represented at IMG Academy, it helps parents to step back from the coaching role easier, knowing their child’s development is in great care."

7. Send your child to a sports sleepaway camp. Sending your child to sleepaway tennis camps or another sports camp has a long list of benefits for them, from building sport-specific skills to helping them develop independence. (Learn more about IMG Academy sports camps here.)

8. Just enjoy yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in our child’s performance when they play sports or to get upset about a call made by a coach or official. Next time you attend one of your child’s games, try to just have fun and enjoy the excitement of the competition. As an added bonus, you’ll also be setting an example for your child to see that they should try to have fun while playing their sport. Hamilton adds, "There is so much for parents to enjoy at IMG Academy, located on the beautiful gulf coast of Florida, from tennis and golf training, and workouts with the performance coaches, to parent education sessions and relaxing days spent at the Wellness spa. Everyone in the family can enjoy the environment at IMG Academy."

Sports parent burnout is real, and it benefits both you and your child to take steps to avoid it. From sending your child to camps, such as tennis sleepaway camps, to practicing self-care, you can proactively take action to be a great sports parent!

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