Is your child ready to compete in a tournament? To prepare, kids must practice and listen to their instructor. For the best experience, they also need you to prepare for the tournament so you can properly support them.
It might take a village to raise a child, but it takes a team to prepare kids for a tournament. Parents and coaches must work together to prepare young archers for competition. A coach teaches them techniques and how tournaments work. Parents, meanwhile, must help implement the coach’s plan, ensure their archer gets a good night’s rest, and then eats a healthy breakfast before the tournament. Parents should also learn the tournament’s basic rules, especially its dress code.
Focus on the Experience
Once you’re at the tournament, it’s all about the experience. Your child should make friends and enjoy the competition. Help keep their mind off their score and where they place.
Also, remember that you can’t shoot the arrows for them. You’re there to support your child. Provide snacks and encouraging words, but mostly stay invisible. According to “The Matheny Manifesto,” a book by Mike Matheny, most young athletes want their parents to do less at sporting events.
What to Say Afterward
What you do after an event is often more important than what you do during it. Win or lose, your child deserves ice cream or some other treat on the way home. And don’t ask, “How did you shoot?” Or, “Did you win?” Those questions might seem harmless, but they overemphasize the child’s performance.
Instead, say, “I love watching you shoot.” Or, “What did you learn today?” Keep things positive, and shift their focus from results to the shooting process. That emphasis is an important part of each archer’s mental game because they control their shot, not their score. It also helps them learn from failure and success, which improves their shooting.
There’s More Value in Failure Than Success
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot, and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan
If your child comes up short of their goal, you can rejuvenate them by helping them learn from failure. Help them evaluate their performance, and craft a plan on how to better prepare for the next tournament. That process teaches them to work through issues rather than dwell on them. They’ll use that important lesson in archery, and in life, the rest of their lives.
Your child’s first tournament will likely lead to many more competitions, and that’s a good thing. Archery tourneys are fun. They teach life lessons, and kids make friends with those who share similar interests. To learn more, talk to your archery instructor or an archery shop’s pro about upcoming competitions.