Whether on the field or off, student-athletes are human. What can parents do to best support their children during their athletic careers in school?
Sports Performance Trainer and local Head Football Coach, TJ Anders has trained student-athletes for the past 13 years and speaks from experience as a
former student-athlete, a coach, and a parent.
Coach Anders has trained athletes in football, basketball, rugby, tennis, and lacrosse to only name a few. Although TJ focuses on speed and agility, he also understands that athletes are human. As a high school football player, TJ experienced great success as he broke records and was recognized for dominating on the field. However, he had many mental hurdles to clear as he continued to grow and evolve in his football career. He understood that he was not only an athlete from high school to college and even a semipro-football player, he understood that he was human. Because of his personal experiences, his conversations with athletes go beyond the field or court. He’s committed to being a positive contributor to their well-being. TJ preaches the importance of mental health and self-awareness in his sessions. He speaks from experience.
As we sat outside of a quaint coffee shop in downtown Round Rock, I picked his brain and asked him to share words of wisdom with parents and student-athletes alike. I wanted to know if he could share anything, based on his lived experiences, and based on the hundreds of athletes he’s trained throughout the years, what would that be.
How can a parent support an athlete in their sport?
A parent should always know exactly what their athlete’s goal is at heart. It shouldn’t be about what the parent didn’t accomplish but rather about what their athlete would like to accomplish. Help them identify and shape their goals. Then find out what the athlete needs to reach their goals. Do they need extra sports performance training? Do they need to visit a chiropractor? Do they need a massage therapist? It would be beneficial to the athlete if the parent is engaged in making sure the athlete is fully aware of where they want to be and to help them get there.
Show up and be present at their games or meets. Truly be there and pay attention. Let them see that you support them at home and in what they love to do. The joy in an athlete’s heart to see their parents cheering them on is unquestionable. And when the game is over, have a constructive conversation. Even if they could have done some things better, don’t break them down. Build them up.
What do you believe is the best way a parent can support their athlete’s well-being?
The best thing a parent can do for an athlete is to have open dialogue and transparent communication with them. Your athlete should be able to come to you and talk about what’s happening on the field or court and in their personal lives. For some athletes, talking is an outlet. For others, playing the sport is their outlet. Being aligned with your athlete will help you know the difference and to be there for them based on what they need. If your athlete is a talker, stay engaged. If your athlete is not a talker, make sure they know that you’re there if ever they need to talk.
What do you think is today’s athletes’ biggest challenge?
I believe social media is their biggest challenge. The amount of time they spend on devices is just not healthy for their mental or physical health. Athletes need to be balanced. We didn’t have to deal with social media when we were growing up. Social media brings pressure. They are exposed to so many different things including body image and bullying.
As parents, we should encourage our athletes to be kids because it’s the only time they get to be one. Exposure to this overwhelming amount of access to the entire world can bring fear and anxiety. We should monitor their screen time and their exposure to the world that is right at their fingertips. We must make sure that our athletes are aware that we are a source of truth, comfort, and balance before any friend or follower on their phones.
What can the entire family do to support their athlete?
The entire family should move together and strive for healthier lifestyles. Go for a walk together or work out together. Not only is that great for the athlete but also for each member of the family. It would be beneficial to the athlete if the whole family committed to working together to be better. Family engagement is important because it increases the strength of the family bond. Your family should be your first team. And just like with any team, experiencing hard work and dedication together build stronger bonds.
What would be your advice to young athletes today?
If you want to maximize your talent at whatever level you’re trying to get to, you need to be curious about your journey and your sport. Study the greats that played before you and those who are playing now. In my years of training, I’ve come across athletes that don’t even watch the sport they play. Stay curious and keep learning. But don’t just learn about the sport. Learn and pay attention to your body. Know how your body responds to training or nutrition. Know your body and know yourself. Improve your strengths but never be afraid to know your weaknesses. Focus on your weaknesses. That’s how you get better. You need to make sleep a priority and give your brain a break. Spending excessive amounts of time on your phone, a video game or tablet is not going to help you focus the way you desire to. Also, make your mental health a priority. Think positively and to do that, you need to remove yourself from negativity. Make sure you have friends in your life that are doing constructive things. Friends that have goals and aspirations are always great company. Be respectful to your parents because that will get you very far. Respect and integrity are two things that will get you extremely far with other people but also with yourself. Always respect yourself and let that respect be reflected in your choices.
Working with a professional, experienced trainer will give your athlete an advantage. Not only will they benefit physically but mentally as well. It is important that the whole family engages in a healthier lifestyle and participates in what is important to the athlete to fully support them in what they love.
At Wilco Wellness, we believe that health is a state of physical, mental, and social well-being. It infuses positive energy into the body, mind, and spirit. The best journey is living to support a complete state of harmony.
Thank you for reading our blog on Mind, Body & Sport: Wellness Advice from a Sports Performance Trainer.
Sports performance and athletic trainers help athletes stay fit, perform at their best, and prevent injury but they also help to make sure student-athletes are healthy and well. If you’re interested in becoming an athletic trainer or hiring one to help your athlete reach their fullest potential in their sport, do your research. You can find more information about TJ Anders and the programs he offers by visiting https://roundrockmpc.com/speed-coach-tj-iron-anders/. You can find a list of local athletic trainers by visiting the Sports section in our directory. Find more information about how trainers keep us safe and strong by reading about it in our Recreation Blog.
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