Posted by Gus Schumacher on Feb 12th 2023
How To Support Your Ski Racer...Emotionally!
I consider myself very lucky to have supporters, especially parents, who cheer for me in the best way possible and keep me psyched about my sport. I’ve also known people who struggled because of parents or friends that projected certain wishes upon them, and that made it hard for them to succeed. I write this because I know how hard it is to know how best to support your athlete, and I want to share my own thoughts about it.
Who am I talking about?
The most powerful supporters, for better and for worse, are parents. They are who a skier often looks up to the most, and has the most influence over their life. But, other supporters—sponsors, friends, extended family—can also be negative influences, and often the closer they are to the athlete, the more ability they have to positively or negatively influence.
Where is the line?
Most people realize they shouldn’t be overbearing. The term “Helicopter Parent” is popular and has a negative connotation for a reason. Parents that control every aspect of their kids’ sport experience often make it hard for the kid to make their own decision and mistakes. This freedom is what allows kids to grow and learn things for themselves, which is the best way to really understand how something works. However, kids (and I mean older kids, too) often still need help. I still count myself as one of those kids. I need my parents for support, even in terms of ski racing. I won’t ask them what they thought about my race usually, but I’ll use them to talk through problems, and also to maybe give big-picture advice. I really appreciate them for being there, but the biggest thing is that they will rarely offer their advice without me asking for it.
How I like to be supported:
I recognize that this issue tends to be personal, and actually probably depends on the type of parents you had. Therefore, take this as one person’s isolated opinion.
From all my supporters, I really appreciate hearing that they care about me as a person first. In subtle terms, this means asking me broadly about how I’m doing first before checking about racing. This allows me to ask for that additional athletic support if I need it, but doesn’t make me feel like they only care about how I’m racing. When I was younger, this was true also. My best supporters really cared about me, and wanted to see me happy. This often meant that they cared if I raced well, because I was happy, but the distinction is that they weren’t necessarily PERSONALLY happy about my racing. I make sure to return that favor also, because I care about them too, and not just because they support my skiing!