For Parents The 6 most important words for you to say to your athlete

Parents... Coaches... Gymnasts...
Gymnastics Questions?
Don't Lurk... We've Got Answers!

New For 2022
MEMBERS ONLY Parent Group!
Join for FREE!
Not open for further replies.


Proud Parent
Sep 30, 2013
The post about knowing if your chld is cut out for this sport made me think about this article. I know many people have blogged about it, but it really made me think about my role in my daughter's gymnastics career.

Here's a link to the whole article:

What We Should Say When Our Kids Perform

The most liberating words parents can speak to their student-athletes are quite simple. Based on psychological research, the three healthiest statements moms and dads can make as they perform are:

Before the Competition: After the competition:

  1. Have fun. 1. Did you have fun?
  2. Play hard. 2. I’m proud of you.
  3. I love you. 3. I love you.
Six Simple Words…

For years, I wondered what the student-athlete would say about this issue. After decades of work with athletes, Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller found out. They suggest six simple words parents can express that produce the most positive results in their performing children. After interacting with students, they report:

College athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame. Their overwhelming response:

“I love to watch you play.”

That’s it. Those six words. How interesting. How liberating to the parent. How empowering to the student-athlete. No pressure. No correction. No judgment. (That’s the coach’s job). Just pure love of their child using their gift in competition.

When I learned this, I reflected on the years my own kids competed in sports, recitals, theatrical plays, and practices. Far too often, I wanted to play a role that added more stress to their life. Instead, I now realize—I just need to love them. And to love watching them play.

From a parent’s view—this is the best way to cultivate an emotionally healthy kid.


Proud Parent
Apr 1, 2013
I read this not too long ago and loved it too! It's a good reminder that our role as parents is to support and encourage, not to correct or add pressure. When they get out of practice, it's so easy to say "did you get your kip (or whatever they're working on) today?" I try to remember to just ask "did you have fun?" or just "how did it go today?", and let her talk about specifics if she wants to. I never want her to feel like she's got to answer to me about her progress after getting out of a 3 hour practice where she's almost constantly corrected. Great article!
  • Like
Reactions: amphomma


Proud Parent
Aug 12, 2013
Thank you for sharing - love it.

How many of us parents know we shouldn't be offering unsolicited corrections, tips, advice or suggestions about our kid's performance or training? And yet, how often do we cross that line? If we're honest with ourselves, and not playing the "When I do it, it's different" card, I'm guessing many of us are guilty. When I slip up, it happens mostly after watching something at a practice. At meets, I usually keep my distance before, and offer kudos after.

Thanks for the reminder, it can't come often enough IMO.

Also, that's the 1st time I've heard of that specific sentence - great line that covers it all.
  • Like
Reactions: amphomma


Proud Parent
May 4, 2010
Instead of asking if she got some skill, I just ask how was practice or what events did you guys work on today. If I happen to see part of practice when I pick up, I also tell her I thought something looked good, or was coming along or generally just something positive.

Funny story...the other night I came early to pick up DD. She was SUPPOSED to leave early because she still had a lot of homework. Of course, she decided not to leave early, but since I was there I recorded her bar routine on my phone from the lobby to show my DH (who never even steps foot in the gym) and DD's grandmother when she visits in a few weeks.

HC/owner asks DD "why is your mom taking a video?" DD replies, "Because she loves me and is proud of me."

That's my girl! :)


Proud Parent
Jun 12, 2011
Idaho Falls, ID- Region 2
I read this article a little bit ago when it was posted earlier and I have since really tried to put those words to use. Everytime that I get watch practice a bit I really try to say I love to watch you practice and she just beams at me.


Proud Parent
Sep 6, 2013
I tried saying those specific words to my little gymnastics enthusiast (she is almost 4 and moving up into a more challenging class this week)...she got a huge smile, and then asked, "why?". I told her, "because you are strong, beautiful, and graceful, but mostly be ause you're going something you love to do!". Even bigger smile. This is such a great sentence. Both my kids (also a son, age 8) are very hard on themselves, so just heading "I love to watch you play" is a good reminder for all of us!
  • Like
Reactions: seoulmama
Not open for further replies.