Help Your Child Sustain High Performance: 5 Tips to Increase Winning

Remember that time you went on a really scary roller coaster ride, screaming all throughout the ride and feeling that sheer joy once the ride ended? Parenting is somewhat like being on a roller coaster. Children are predictable in an unpredictable way. But parenting is a journey every parent is thrilled to be on. 

Twitter/ @LurkAtHomeMom

This tweet aptly depicts what being a parent means. After all parents anywhere in the world want whats best for their kid(s).  

No matter how weird, unexplainable or hard situations parents find themselves in they always want what’s best for their child. Best baby formula, best toys, best food, the best school and so on and so forth. Most children get enrolled in sporting activities by their parents. Parents have to juggle a lot and take upon more mindful decisions specially when they their child is an athlete. 

Research suggests that parental involvement is necessary for your child’s development. Though there are differences to be seen in a child’s sporting performance when their parents are under-involved or over-involved [1

It is crucial for parents to support their child’s holistic well-being. Only when children feel being supported by their family, will their athletic performance enhance. 

Parents are heavily devoted to their child’s athletic journey. Five-time Olympic gold medalist, swimmer Missy Franklin’s mother, D. A. Franklin drove her daughter to all her practices and took care of all her needs in and out of the pool. Former Olympic figure skater Yuna Kim’s Mother who was an integral part behind her daughter’s success had something to say in a memoir that was a best-seller in South Korea [2].

 “For Yuna, I studied harder than when I was in school. I devoted myself to her more passionately than when I was in love.”

There are people around the athlete that can have a direct impact on them such as family, coaches and friends. This article is specifically for parents who are invested in their child’s brighter and more successful sporting career. 

As parents, you would have the biggest impact on your child’s life. It is said that a child becomes who he/she is due to his/her parents’ teachings. Just how parents teach the baby to take its first steps similarly, acquisition of basic sport skills takes place.There are times when the child faces adversities in the form of:

  • Balancing school routines & training schedules.
  • Sporting injuries. [3]
  • Lack of motivation. 

All the above mentioned “adversities” in a child’s sporting career can decrease their chances of sustaining high performance. Parents spend more time with the youth athlete than their coaches do. Hence it can be concluded that there are ways in which parents can help strengthen the consistency in their child’s sport performance. So how can YOU as a parent contribute to your child’s high performance which sustains. 

After reading this blog, you should be able to develop an understanding of:

  • Why parents play a key role in an athlete’s lasting high performance.
  • Which factors contribute to high performance. 
  • Strategies that nurture inevitable high performance.

Why Parents?

Parents of athletes are satisfying three fundamental roles. [4]

Image Courtesy: She Knows,, Transforming Health 

  1. Parents as ‘Providers’
  • Who drives their kids to practices and back? PARENTS
  • Who makes sure their child has all the necessary resources available to excel in their sporting careers? PARENTS
  • Who finds out all the accessible opportunities to gain experience for the athlete? MUMS & DADS do!

2. Parents as ‘Interpreters

  • Parents can teach their children to accept the consequences of participating in sports.
  • Parents influence the kind of experience a child has in their sporting career.
  • The kind of reactivity one sees in an athlete was probably passed on from his/her parents.

3. Parents as Role Models

  • Initially it is parents who act as their child’s coach and a permanent life coach and lifeguard.
  • Children behave in a similar manner as their parents. E.g.:If the parents treat every practice session as important, it is very likely that the child will instill the attribute of being consistently dedicated to most of their training sessions. 

Factors that Lead to High Performance

After reviewing various research articles that were trying to specify which factors lead to performance, researchers came up with a model that put all of that together. The model was named High Performance Environment Model (HPE) [5]. The HPE model is a useful framework for parents as it enables them to gather a better understanding of how environmental and organizational factors play a role on the performance output their child delivers.[6]

Developing a better understanding of the HPE model will enable parents to help their child develop high performance which will be inevitable. In the limelight, sits the leader that is responsible for creating an environment that enables members in the society to reach a common goal. 

It is important to note that the HPE model details the predictors of organizational performance that organizations are able to control and influence. [5]

The High-Performance Environment Model is briefly discussed below:

1. At the center of the model rests leaders. Leaders are supposed to sculpt the behaviors of the people in order to reach organization’s vision. The aim of a leader is to create enough opportunities in the form of challenges for the people to grow and also provide enough support to fulfil that challenge.  

In relation to this blog, parents are the leaders and have the responsibility of shaping their child athlete’s behavior in accordance with the vision they have for themselves. It is also the job of the leaders a.k.a parents to provide their children with a balanced amount of challenges and support to grow. 

Parent leaders can model behaviors of their children broadly in two ways- autonomy supportive parenting style or controlling parenting. Parents who use autonomy-supportive parenting styles [1] are: 

  • Highly involved in their child’s life. 
  • Use minimal pressure on their children to fulfil certain expectations.
  • Provide options to their children. 
  • Support their children in the decisions they make. 

Out of these 4 points, how many did you tick?

Parents who make use of Controlling parenting styles [1] are:

  • Making no use of open communication with their children.
  • Can’t read their child’s mood.
  • Set boundaries in a controlling way.

There are times when one parent adopts an autonomy-supportive parenting style and the other makes use of a controlling parenting style. This leads to inconsistencies in the overall parenting. 

2. Leaders also interact with three external variables known as performance enablers. These are:

  • Information: if the role of the child is clear in what expectations and responsibilities are upon him/her, it becomes easier to fulfil the desired vision. Children will benefit greatly from having specific goals to achieve. 
  • Instrument: the right kind of resources that the child needs in order to achieve the desired challenge, vision or goal. These instruments can be knowledge-related, physical equipment or structural. 
  • Incentive: According to HPE model, leaders need to create a climate that keeps children (in this blog) motivated. Motivational climate can be created by providing constructive feedback, include them in decision-making, providing them with rewards etc. 

3. Moving away from the center i.e. the leadership, comes the factor of people. These people need attitude (trust in their leader), behaviors (performing one’s role with energy and dedication) and capacity (the ability to function at full capacity despite hardships). 

4. The perception that individuals have of their surrounding performing environment is known as organizational climate. All the factors mentioned above function in a performance environment where an individual sustains. 

For instance, the culture that the parents create for the youth athletes can focus on:

  • Achievement.
  • Well-being
  • Innovation
  • Internal Process

OR preferable a combination of the four.

5. Lastly, the climate or the culture created via interaction between the leader, performance enablers and the people leads to performance outcome. 

Figure: High Performance Environment Model, Lane4

Change begins at home

Tips to nurture high performance that is inevitable

Youth athletes might be facing enough challenges in their sporting and academic career. As leaders a.k.a. parents it is your responsibility to provide equal amount of support to your child. 

Tip 1: Open Communication

One way to provide support is through having a channel of open communicationwhere thoughts, feelings and decision making can be a two-way street. Parents who’s make use of controlling parenting style, those children might not get that space to voice out their opinions. Hence pressure increases.The role of a parent is to support their child through thick and thin and not be a coach

Showing support is at its peak when you’re on your way back from a competition in the car. That car ride back home is not a place to discuss the flaws as the frustration levels, emotions and disappointments might be on a roll for both the parent and the child. [6] Parents might feel the need to discuss about the game whilst going back home in the car but to the child who’s listening to you, might come across as something different. 

“athletes do not need adults to question their actions, the actions of other players, or the coach’s decisions concerning strategy or playing time.”

Bruce Browns in his book “Teaching Character through Sport”

Tip 2: Constructive Feedback is CRUCIAL

Broadly speaking there are two ways in which parents provide feedback. [7] 

One, the negative feedback where the child is living in an ‘ego-oriented parental climate’

An illustration from a research shows how parents provide a negative feedback to their child:

“They’d moan at me if I lost, so I got it into my head that I can’t lose this or I’ll get a bollocking, you know.”

(Harwood & Swain, 2001)

And the second is a constructive feedback where the suggestions for improvement stem from a ‘task-oriented parental climate’. Let’s look at an example of constructive feedback given to a child:

“My parents gave me some encouragement. They’d look at my performance and give me some tips. They’d say, “You tried hard but maybe you could have done this….”- things like that.” 

(Harwood & Swain, 2001)

Feedback conversations can be constructed in this manner: initial sentences point out the good things that your child did in that match/practice session and later on moving towards the areas where your child could make an improvement. It is all about trying to draw their attention towards aspects of their game where they have a room for improvement.

Tip 3: Goal setting

A popular motivational technique used to enhance performance and productivity in athletes. [8] Setting smaller and smarter goals that are achievable by your kids is a great way to build up their confidence in the path that they’ve chosen. By completing smaller goals youth athletes feel a sense of efficacy. They start believing in themselves and the decisions they make. 

Making use of SMART[9] goals is a good example of goal setting.

Image Courtesy: Teen Smart Goals

Tip 4: Gift of Failure

Winning or losing a match doesn’t teach your child much in life. Winning is merely a goal. Research [10] shows that children do not consider winning to be an integral part of playing sport, but they do understand that it is crucial for their parents.

At the same time, children should be taught that failure is not the marker of their self-worth. There is more to life than just winning. Teach your children to face failures and accept them. Learning to fail intelligently, can be a root cause of further development and innovation.

Image Courtesy: Fearless Motivation

Tip 5: Armour of steel

Teaching your child how to be resiliant will define how well can they bounce back from failure. Psychological resilience [11] is defined as:

“the role of mental processes and behavior in promoting personal assets and protecting an individual from the potential negative effect of stressors”

(Fletcher & Sarkar, 2012, p. 675, 2013, p. 16.)

Research suggests that just by providing support to your child promotes resiliency [12]. Apart from being supportive of your child, teaching them to be optimistic has also proven to be helpful in building resilience [13].

Failure tends to evoke negative thoughts. Recognising such thoughts can help youth athletes realise their weak moments and accordingly work on turning them into their strengths. Making a note of such thoughts in details is equally helpful.

Help your child build an armour of steel that aids them in every & any aspect of their life.

Take Home Messages:
  • Parents have the biggest impact on youth athletes to foster behaviour change to increase performance.
  • High Performance Environment Model puts parents as leaders in the limelight.
  • Environment in and around the house can nurture inevitable high performance.
  • Failures faced by youth athletes should not be the basis of judging their worth.
  • Using a mixture of techniques will facilitate high performance for youth athletes.
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  1. Holt, N. L., Tamminen, K. A., Black, D. E., Mandigo, J. L., & Fox, K. R. (2009). Youth Sport Parenting Styles and Practices. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 37-59.
  2. Bourassa, S. (2014, February 21). Today. Retrieved from Today:
  3. Merkel, D. L. (2013). Youth sport: positive and negative impact on young athletes. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine, 151-160.
  4. Fredricks, J. A., & Eccles, J. S. (2004). Parental Influences on Youth Involvement in Sports. In M. R. Weiss, Developmental sport and exercise psychology: A lifespan perspective(pp. 145-164). Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.
  5. Jones, G., Gittins, M., & Hardy, L. (2009). Creating An Environment Where High Performance Is Inevitable and Sustainable: The High Performance Environment Model. Annual Review of High Performance Coaching & Consulting, 139-150.
  6. Fletcher, D., & Streeter, A. (2016). A Case Study Analysis of a High Performance Environment in Elite Swimming. Journal of Change Management, 123-141.
  7. O’Sullivan, J. (2014, May 1). Retrieved from Changing the game project:
  8. Harwood, C., & Swain, A. (2001). The Development and Activation of Achievement Goals in Tennis: 1 Understanding the Underlying Factors. The Sport Psychologist, 319-341.
  9. Wiese, B. S. (2007). Successful pursuit of personal goals and subjective well-being. In B. Little, K. Salmela-Aro, J. Nurmi, & S. Phillips, Personal project pursuit: Goals, action, and human flourishing(pp. 301-328). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  10. Lawlor, K. B. (2012). Smart Goals: How the Application of Smart Goals can Contribute to Achievement of Student Learning Outcomes. The Annual Absel Conference(pp. 259-267). Developments in Business Simulation and Experiential Learning.
  11. Smoll, F. L., & Smith, R. E. (n.d.). Club & League Connect.Retrieved from
  12. Sarkar, M., & Fletcher, D. (2014). Psychological resilience in sport performers: a review of stressors and protective factors. Journal of Sport Sciences, 1419-1434.
  13. Stewart, D., & Sun, J. (2014). How can we Build Resilience in Primary School Aged Children? The Importance of Social Support from Adults and Peers in Family, School and Community Settings. Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health, 37-41.
  14. Galli, N., & Gonzalez, S. P. (2015). Psychological resilience in sport: A review of the literature and implications for research and practice. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 243-257.
  15. Goldberg, D. (n.d.). Competitive Edge.Retrieved from Competitive Advantage:
  16. Wuerth, S., Lee, M. J., & Alfermann, D. (2004). Parental involvement and athletes’ career in youth sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 21-33.

By Kalna Shukla

Keen to provide the principles used to understand human nature through psychology that can be easily applied by all. Possessing a powerful perspective lens to observe human behaviour helps me stay passionate to learn more about homo sapiens. Helping individuals sustain high performance through vision, focus and desire. Any individual has the innate capacity to grow and thrive. Even you!

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