Participation in competitive sports has many undeniable benefits including health and fitness, self-esteem and emotional well-being, improved academic performance and time management, development of essential life skills around competition, teamwork and managing defeat, and the development of social networks. However, competitive sports can be a stressor for athletes and families as well. Parents naturally may attempt to influence, support, encourage their child to succeed and unexpectedly find themselves locked in battles with their kids and with their kids’ coaches. This can lead to marital tension and a preoccupation with sports to the exclusion of other family activities. These tensions can permeate family relationships resulting in constant stress and conflict.
The pressure on young athletes to compete and perform at higher and higher levels requires that families spend substantial emotional and financial resources on their children’s sports. The cost of travel for competitive teams and private lessons or coaching, the balance of academics and practice, the amount of family time spend driving athletes to games and practices means that the family’s resources may be stretched. Sports can become disproportionately prioritized and preferenced over other family activities. The resultant emphasis on success and individual performance can impact the dynamics of the family system as well as the functioning of the athlete.
Sports psychology is one therapeutic medium that addresses performance related concerns, however, the approach treats only the individual. The assumption is that if the individual can adopt more productive self-regulation, he/she can address the self-defeating messages that create anxiety that impacts performance. The therapeutic approach of Strategic Solutions assumes that sports performance and athletic success is supported and maintained by the context and the family system. Families that get into non-productive patterns around sports can unwittingly provoke anxiety and maintain subpar performance which only functions to increase the levels of family stress and conflict resulting in poorer performance. These patterns can be identified and interrupted, altering the functioning of the family around sports and resulting in family dynamics that support athletic success. Patterns of relating that impact the athlete are not only among family members but may also be between the family and the coaching staff. Parents and coaches who are unable to support the athlete in a cohesive fashion, may find themselves in adversarial relationships that inevitably impacts individual and team success.
The approach to optimizing athletic performance at Strategic Solutions addresses the concerns of the individual athlete, the family system, and the relationship between parents and coaches. Strategic Solutions also provides training and consultation to coaches and teams to assess and develop interventions and strategies that enable coaches to maximize their effectiveness and create dynamics that enable teams to perform to their full capacity.
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