Mia Hamm has won two Olympic gold medals, two World Cups, four NCAA championships and a place in the Hall of Fame as a soccer star. But her greatest reward comes from being a proud mother of twin girls and a son. Recently, Hamm sat down with us to share insights on what parents can do to put their kids in the best position to succeed in sports and growing up.
Don’t force your kids to choose.
Parents are often tempted to steer their kids toward one sport so they can spend all their time becoming really good at that sport. But to Mia, that doesn’t make sense.
“I’ve heard so-called experts say that your child needs to pick one sport to concentrate on by age 10,” she says. “I think that’s just sad. Skills I learned from other sports helped me be a better soccer player. Basketball improved my balance. Playing softball, I learned to track a ball in flight.”
Beyond the athletics, Mia notes there are broader lessons to be gained: “Through different sports, kids learn life lessons and get to explore themselves.”
Find your own balance.
A family’s well-being can be significantly influenced by a parent’s well-being. Finding a personal balance between activities gets more difficult when family life gets hectic, but it’s important to maintain.
“As a mother, I have to remind myself that my family’s well-being depends on my own state of wellness,” Mia says. “Understand how physical, mental and emotional fitness pull at one another and you’ll have a better chance at getting the balance you need in your life.”
Making healthy choices in diet and exercise puts parents in a better position to focus their energies on children, and it provides kids with an example of maintaining wellness
Support your kids’ effort – win or lose.
“The car ride home is now a symbol of what many kids dislike most about sports,” Mia notes. “That’s when parents criticize their performance or say negative things about their coaches or teammates.”
Mia urges parents to be supportive of kids in sports, regardless of the outcome of the game. This is particularly important while the game is being played.
“Win or lose, it’s important to be a parent first and a coach second,” Mia says. “Parents, keep a smile on your face, clap your hands, give a thumbs-up. Show encouragement. You have to remember they’re just kids.”