Peru Wrestling Parent Meeting
There is one thing we all have in common here: We all care very deeply about a boy who is participating in the Peru Wrestling Program. I know that you want him to have a good experience in wrestling this
season… and beyond. I know that you want him to be successful. What I would like to do at this point is to help you make your son’s experience in wrestling a good one AND to help YOU help him to succeed.
Parents, NEVER underestimate how important you are in the life of your son. Most of you have gone to great lengths in time, energy and in money to help your son to be successful in wrestling. You’ve traveled, spent 1,000s of dollars and spent a great deal of time driving, watching, waiting for and in some cases even coached your son. I know that without you and without your support, your son would not be who he is and would not be the wrestler he is today. As a coach (and as a father) I appreciate you more than you know.
Once again, the reason I am speaking to you this evening is that I would like to help YOU… to help YOUR SON. I am think that by passing some of what I have learned during my years as a parent as well as my years as a coach who has observed thousands of wrestlers and their families, I can help you avoid some of the problems that have occurred in the lives of many. I have seen good things… and I’ve seen some very bad things… that parents have done to their sons. The interesting thing is that in probably EVERY case, the parent has meant well. When it comes to “helping” our sons succeed as a wrestler, meaning well does not always get the results that we are hoping for. In fact, the opposite frequently happens. We all want our boys to succeed… and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. The problem lies in the way we often times go about trying to make this happen.
Perhaps the most important thing for us to know is this: every athlete needs to enjoy this sport. If he is not enjoying it, he will not improve as quickly. In fact, if he’s not enjoying it, and may even quit… and this can happen regardless of his talent or the amount of success he has had. We (both parents and coaches) must be very careful not to be overly concerned with success in terms of wins and losses. If we are, the wrestlers’ enjoyment of wrestling will drop significantly. This is especially true for the early period in the wrestler’s development. We would do well to remember this: The greater the enjoyment… the more improvement they will experience. We should NEVER be responsible for taking the fun out of wrestling for our sons.
We also need to understand that just because a wrestler wins does NOT necessarily mean he is a good wrestler. He is a good wrestler if he is in the process of mastering the art of wrestling… in each and every situation. With this approach, you should see consistent improvement. Your son’s training is designed for him to master the art of wrestling – NOT just win tomorrow. This is a process… and it takes time. If he can simply keep getting better, winning will take care of itself. Also know that no two wrestlers make progress at the same rate. But, if he sticks with it, he will undoubtedly succeed.
The first thing you can do to help your son is for you to understand what your role should be. You are your son’s SUPPORT SYSTEM. This means that your role (job) is to “help” your son make good choices and assist them in wrestling, school and in life. This role is critical and no one else can fill it other than you.
What you should never try to be, however, is your son’s coach! This is the biggest mistake that we as parents make – trying to coach our sons… rather than simply supporting and encouraging them. Your support role is vital. But, your son does not want to be… nor should he be… coached 24 hours a day. Wrestling practice and competition is extremely tough. When your son leaves the battlefield of the practice room or the competition mat, he needs to be energized and encouraged. He should never be criticized, coached, given a “clinic” or “trained some more” because you “think he should be better” or “could be doing more.” That is what the coaches do. This is their role.
So what should and can we as parents (now aka our son’s support system) do to help him?
1. Be positive. Encourage your son. Do NOT criticize his performance. Praise good efforts in both victory AND defeat. Enforce the positive points of the match. Praise improvement. If you see something negative in his performance, keep it to yourself. Never yell at… or certainly never physically abuse your child after a game or practice. This only hurts… especially later on as the negative effects are often delayed. You and your home should be an “oasis”… a place for your son to go for refreshment. Wrestling is tough enough in both practice and competition. He needs someplace to go where everything is OK… where he doesn’t have to “hear it” or defend himself. And, while he may “put up with it” when he is younger, it will come back to haunt you later.
2. Don’t force a conversation about wrestling unless your son initiates it… especially after a tough loss or poor performance. If he doesn’t want to talk about it – don’t! And don’t fret over his silence. He most likely will talk at some point – especially if you are consistently complimentary, encouraging and positive. Also, if he wants to talk about a match, let him do the vast majority of the talking. Don’t use it as an opportunity “teach him something” or tell him what he ought to have done or how he can get better. Show him that you are listening and that you care.
3. It will also help to remind yourself that wrestling is HIS thing, not yours. Remember that you want to support him, to let him know that you are on his side. If he talks to you about it, your goal should not be to give advice on how to become a better wrestler. Adopt the attitude that you want your child to tell-you-more (i.e., "I really want to hear what you have to say."). Then, actually listen to what he has to say — even if you don't agree with it or like it – rather than waiting for an opportunity to talk. He does NOT want to hear how he could have done better. It should be: He talks and you listen… NOT the other way around – no matter how much you have to say, JUST LISTEN.
4. The exception to this rule may be in the area of poor sportsmanship or other inappropriate actions involving school, opponents or teammates. Some of these may include disrespectful actions or attitudes toward opponents, his teammates or his coach, humiliating an opponent, throwing a fit during or after a loss, not supporting his teammates, arrogant behavior, etc. In this case, firmly remind him that this not something that will be acceptable or tolerated in the future. My approach to an athlete who fails to respond appropriately after a loss has been along this line: “I really like that you hate to lose. Hating to lose is a great quality. However, showing it with poor sportsmanship is a sign of weakness. No one should ever see this again.”
5. Be supportive of the coaching staff. Whether you agree with us or not, you should never communicate to him (or to others) a difference of opinion, make negative comments about us personally or our ability to coach. It will accomplish nothing positive and will undoubtedly adversely his attitude as well as his effort in the future. If there is a disagreement or a problem, discuss this with the coach/coaching staff privately. These things are just as “contagious” among adults. Help the team by supporting… not tearing down.
6. Do not criticize or “talk down” other members of the team to your son. He will learn sportsmanship and leadership (be it good or bad) from you. My experience has shown that the best leaders consistently come from positive parents.
7. Do NOT make the mistake of trying to approach wrestling in the same manner as some other parent has… simply because his/her son has/had competitive success. Being “overly involved” with your son carries with it problems that may not show up until sometime in the future.
8. “Honor the game” and avoid embarrassing your son. You can do this by being respectful toward officials and opposing coaches and players. Focus on cheering for our team… not cheering AGAINST the other team.
9. Make good nutrition a family thing, not just the wrestler.
10. Be sure to provide a good environment for academic work at home. DEMAND GOOD ACADEMICS.
11. Don’t be a fan of other wrestlers. The last thing your son wants (or needs) to hear is how good someone else is… or what some other wrestler does. You should be a fan of the team and your son.
12. Get involved with the “Bengal Backers Booster Club.”
13. Be sure your son has clean workout gear and a clean towel every day. This includes uniforms. Skin infections can be prevented by cleanliness, proper rest and good nutrition. (MRSA, ringworm, etc.)
14. Make sure that your son gets to practice and meets… EARLY! Make certain that he takes care of the details of his life that must be completed.
15. Provide a great environment for sleep. Get your son to bed.
16. Take in college matches… IF your son wants to do so.’
17. Remember that wrestling is for the student athletes – NOT for the adults. It is your SON’S thing… not YOUR thing.
NO MAGIC, JUST HARD WORK!