“What to do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.” – Dean Smith

What are the transitions

Throughout all of our life spans we go through a number of transitions, for example maturation, such as childhood to adolescence, adolescence to adulthood. We go through transitions of where we live, or where we work. We go through social transitions such as single to married or married to single, changes in our social circle, retirement and so on. Change is normal, but it does bring challenges. Athletes go through all of these changes but they also go through sporting career changes in parallel and this presents some additional challenges for the athlete and those that support them.

This unit will highlight what some of the new environments or transitions that athletes go through, what are the key challenges in dealing with them and how can you as a Parent/Guardian help. There are a number of different interpretations of the names and types of transitions that athletes go through in their career life span. For the purposes of this program we are going to lean on the model of Wylleman. Alfermann and Lavelle (2002)

Performance transitions

All along the athlete life cycle, there are transitions in level of ability and performance. A number of different authors have described these stages of development differently, but essentially we go from being introduced to a sport, to beginning to develop a level of specialization, to becoming proficient and maybe a high performer. So what are the challenges with transitioning from a proficient level to becoming a high performer and how can the Parent/Guardian assist.

Managing Expectations

One of the things that the Parent/Guardian can be aware of is to help the athlete manage their expectations in their transition into a high performance environment. Elite young athletes will have been used to being he best in their age group but they may not necessarily, immediately have the same level of success when moving into the Senior ranks. Performance development is not a straight line and the amount and regularity of success will, most likely reduce. In assisting the athlete to plan talk to them about their goal setting, and subsequently their evaluation of their performance against those goals. If using a simple goal setting mechanism such as SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) make sure you discuss how achievable and realistic in the time frame proposed are those goals for the athlete. Are their more achievable short-term goals that will lead to the longer term “dream goals” that are realistically achievable now?

The Parent/Guardian role is going to change

We know that throughout an athletes career that the Parent/Guardian will always be an source of emotional support for the athlete. However, as an athlete gets older and moves from a junior to a senior training environment or into a high performance athlete, the role of the parent may change significantly. For example, many junior athletes are coached by their parents and while some as seniors continue to be coached, successfully by a parent, most often it is another coach that works with an athlete at a senior level. As a young athlete, the Parent/Guardian is the most significant planner, decision maker, emotional & financial supporter and role model for the Dual Career athlete. However as the athlete gets older there is an “increased reliance on and solidarity with peer athletes” and the coach becomes a more prominent social agent of change.

How can the Parent/Guardian help

Be aware and prepared for our changing role. It can be difficult to accept this letting go of responsibility and connection but keeping hold of it is just an increased stressors for the athlete. Prepare for the change. Help your athlete plan for that new environment. Be aware of the increased reliance on coaches and peer athletes/students that comes with these transitions and factor that into the decision making process in terms of selecting a new coach and training environment in co-operation with the Dual Career athlete. Do not just choose a new training environment and coach purely on their track record on results but is this also the environment that can provide the kind of supportive environment you would wish for.