Anson Dorrance on Parents

Took our daughter Taylor to her first U11 soccer practice this afternoon and while she was playing I sat on a picnic table and caught up on my reading of Anson Dorrance's "Vision of a Champion." Coincidently, the chapter I read centered around players and their parents and some of Dorance's thoughts made me think and are definitely worth mentioning here.

"What doesn't work is a daughter without strong character and the same type of parent. Those two, who are not willing to take personal responsibility for anything, bond together and develop a self righteous, judgemental view of the world, which is especially damaging to the daughter. What you have in this dynamic is a player who whines to her parent, and a parent who supports and justifies the whining and then whines to everyone else."

"Almost every stressed out, self destructive (soccer) player is characterized by overmanaging parents."

"In fact, in my experience, players whose parents keep their distance actually end up developing faster and better, and with less stress and pressure, than those whose parents want to be overly involved in everything."

"The way parents can help their children. . . . . is by not comparing their children's performance with a rival teammate or by jumping in with both feet and fighting any of their children's battles. If sports can have any value off the field it is in the athletes dealing with the difficult, but ultimately empowering challenges on their own."

So good luck this season Taylor. I am not going to be one of "those" parents. Listen to your coaches. Play hard. Compete every day. Don't whine, complain, make excuses, or blame anyone else. And above all else, remember that being an athlete is not about what you can get but it's about what you can become!


Anonymous said...

Great post! It reminds me of parents that some of my old teammates have to put up with. Do you think that there are more parents like this at smaller high schools than bigger ones? It kinda seems that way to me

Dave Stricklin said...

I don't think the size of the school really has anything to do with the type of parents or athletes in it. Sarah Coleman went to a one room high school in Washington and is one of UCC's all time greats. Samantha Russell went to very small school in Oregon and had as good an attitude as anyone I've ever coached even though she didn't always play very much. They were both responsible, accountable, had great work ethics, and had parents that supported them without pressuring them. Their parents still come and watch us play at least once a year even though their daughters have finished their careers.