Today I was in the kitchen cooking and for some reason or other, I started thinking about how parents can help guide their child towards becoming a professional athlete. I thought about the road my oldest son, Anthony has followed on his way to becoming a professional MMA fighter. Anthony “The Genius” Romero (9-1) is our 24-year-old son. He’s competed in Jiu-Jitsu, MMA, and kickboxing tournaments all over the world. A few things stand out in my mind that my husband and I have done to support him in his sport throughout the years.
In the Beginning
Of course, in the beginning, parents can introduce their child to a sport. Anthony started with a month-long introduction to a karate program our local city offered. He seemed to really like martial arts, so we asked him if he would like to continue, and he said yes. At the time, there wasn’t much offered where we lived, but we were able to find a Taekwondo school nearby. Anthony loved it, which brings me to my second point.
Let your child choose to continue if they like the sport. Don’t push him/her or believe they like something just because you do. Check-in with your child every so often to make sure they are doing the sport for the right reasons and not just because they think it makes you happy.
Teach Life Skills
Being a professional athlete takes a great deal of time management. Having a child in a sport is a great way to teach them this important skill. Make sure your child learns the importance of being on time and how to balance training, schoolwork, and their social life. Time management is an important life skill that will serve him well in the future.
Teach your child the importance of showing up to training and competition. Let him know there are legitimate excuses for taking time off. It’s important to let kids be kids and give them a break every once and a while, but if excuses keep adding up, maybe this sport is not for them.
Be Involved and Be Real
As parents, try to learn as much as you can about the sport. Showing a common interest in what your child is doing is a great bonding experience. Talking to your child about the sport makes it all that more important and special not only in their life but in the family’s life as a whole.
Make sure you encourage your child but don’t sugarcoat everything. Your child will not learn or become better at the sport if you tell them everything is perfect. As parents, you need to review the good things they did in practice or competition as well as the bad things. Don’t be overly critical to the point where you discourage them, but be real and make sure your child knows your criticism is coming from a good place.
I have to say, my husband and I have no martial arts or combat sports training. We had no idea that putting our child in a karate class at age five would lead him to a professional sporting career. I believe our experiences throughout the years could be helpful to other parents. Looking back on the road we traveled, these are the most important suggestions we have to pass on!
Featured Image Credits to Embed from Getty Images