12 Most Empowering Phrases Your Young Athlete Needs to Hear

12 Most Empowering Phrases Your Young Athlete Needs to Hear

Words matter. The old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” is a nice defense mechanism when youʼre getting bombarded with hurtful speech, but the honest truth is, words can hurt.

Your words can also heal and empower. Parents know the influence of positive speech on their kids and if you are a mom or dad of athletes, your words can also have a powerful effect on your childʼs performance and enjoyment of competition.

When playing sports, your child needs to hear:

1. “You can choose the sport you want to play”

Not the sport Mom or Dad or Uncle Jimmy or Grampa wants him to play, but the sports your child is interested in.

2. “Tell me about practice/game”

This opens the door for your young athlete to talk and share as he wishes, without feeling he is being interrogated.

3. “Tell me about your dreams”

Allow your child to dream, set goals, think big. And donʼt be the squasher of those dreams. Life has a way of re-shaping them without your help.

4. “I enjoy watching you play”

Not “I enjoy watching you score” or “I love it when you have a good game.” Those are conditional and can leave your child wondering if you enjoy watching him even when he has a bad game.

5. ”I believe in you”

Youʼd be surprised how much taller a child will stand knowing that you believe that he can succeed.

6. “Iʼm proud of you”

This goes beyond the scope of sports, but your child needs to know that you are proud of HIM, not his stats or his trophy shelf.

7. “You will come back”

All athletes suffer from slumps, but the real test of their strength is learning to push through until they get it right.

8. “Letʼs celebrate the small victories”

When seasons were tough for our kids, we found this practice very empowering. Helping your young athlete see the small victories in a game instead of huge achievements gives them a sense of victory even when things are hard.

9. “Itʼs okay to struggle”

Every athlete struggles with something. Even college athletes and pros. If sports was an easy road, thereʼd be no pleasure in the achievements. Let your kid know that the struggle doesnʼt have to beat him. As the song goes, “What doesnʼt kill you, makes you stronger.”

10. “Iʼm sorry”

Sorry you feel bad about your performance. Sorry you donʼt like your team. Sorry you arenʼt happy with your playing time. Recognizing your childʼs feelings is okay. It lets him know you support and love him.

11. “How can I help?”

When your child is having a hard time, he may just need to know that you are there to offer him support.

12. “Great progress!”

When your child takes huge steps, when he learns a new skill or how to be a leader, or a team player, acknowledge his achievement.

Although these phrases can motivate and help your child, remember that sometimes the most important communication we give is not in our words. It is who we are to our kids that really empowers them for life.

How do you empower your children in sports?

Featured image courtesy of woodleywonderworks licensed via Creative Commons.

Janis Meredith


Janis B. Meredith writes a sportsparenting blog. She’s been a sports mom for 20 years, and a coach’s wife for 28, and sees life from both sides of the bench. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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