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While it looks like we’re potentially off sport until at least half term, if not until summer holidays or even September by the time everything starts again, there’s not much to prep for. As a sports parent I’d like tennis and swimming to be back on again, but it’s hard to know how sports will work once lockdowns are eased and social distancing is still in place.
For tennis we’re relying on the rebounder net in the garden and a bit of patio space to play. The LTA and N’s county tennis coaches have provided some home training activity videos. This includes training drills and movements to practice during this down time. Not that N has been keen to do much. It’ll be a shock when tennis starts again, and they will need a lot of practising to get back to where the children were before the lockdown came into place.
Being a sports parent
I love being a sports mum. I love being able to support N – from taking him and his friends to matches and training, to emotional support. From understanding how everything is changing as N moves through the age levels, to getting involved in captaining and the local club.
Some of the other mums have said it’s great that I’m so involved and that I know what’s going on. I’m the person they ask for questions.
Hopefully N finds it useful and not intrusive. It means I can answer his questions on what’s coming next, and by being involved and interested I’m sure that’s helped him with the coaches in knowing he’s got someone willing to put tennis first if he wants to. I’m sure that’s also helped him being put forward for matches and recommended for county training. After all, if parents don’t help their children be available and involved, then it’s not going to help them progress because not all coaches are there all the time to work out what all their students should be doing outside of lessons.
In prepping for training and matches, children have to learn to get their kit ready. N’s pretty good at remembering when he needs his tennis racket for school, or what he wants to take to matches. But here’s plenty of preparation for sports mums too.
I like to be prepared for any eventuality (my Brownie guide training rubbing off), and given we’re always in the car to get to tennis, it’s easy to just keep most things ready to go in there for when needed. Here’s what I make sure I have ready to go, in being a prepared sports mum.
How to be a prepared sports mum
1, Learn about the sport
You might have played it yourself which is always an advantage, but if not, learn enough to understand the game, scoring and the rules. If only to be able to answer questions and know what’s going on if watching.
2, Ask your child how much involvement they want you to have
As they get older it will change so make the most of it while you can. If you don’t want to watch hours of training but can’t leave them to go elsewhere, make use of the time by multi-tasking. Read, work, socialise with other sports parents, take knitting or crochet, or go for a run yourself around the sports ground.
If you know lots about the sport, do make sure you’re not that annoying parent who interferes with training or coaching the children during matches. There was one dad with a child in the tennis lesson before ours, and he’d stand on court practising himself and then shouting over at his child while the coach was trying to teach. Thankfully, the coach had a word and told him not to be there if he couldn’t stay off court and quiet.
3, Prepare everything in advance
My top tip is to prepare everything the night before a match. Or at least have a list you use to make sure kit is washed ready and that nothing is left at home.
4, Replace things as soon as they’re used
It seems obvious, but how many times have you gone to find something and then had to find an open shop on a Sunday morning before a match. When items are used up, make sure you top them up straight after they’re used.
5, Have a ‘kit’ bag or box in the car boot
Have everything that might be needed. Including things for yourself not just the person playing.
What to include in a sports mum ‘kit
Be prepared for all weather if the sport is outside.
Take a blanket – summer to sit on, winter to wrap up in. Or if children are muddy after playing, to put on the car seats for them to sit on.
Camping chair – it’s not comfy sitting on hard ground for 1.5 hours of training, so take a fold up seat.
Umbrella – also for use in hot weather for children to take shade under during breaks. There’s not always shade at sports grounds.
Sun lotion – sprays are easier for children to use.
Hat – for yourself (sun hat or woolly hat). Take a spare hat for your child too – there’s always someone who forgets to take a sun hat.
Wipes/antibac – for sweaty hands, cooling off, if there’s no toilets or hand basins available.
Towel – hand towel size is usually ok. Children can have one in their sports bag, but having a spare is also handy. We like Decathlon microfibre ones or small camping towels.
Water – lots of it to top up water bottles if there aren’t taps around.
Snacks or lunch – if it’s an all day or all afternoon tournament or training, having food is essential. Make them easy to eat, try reusable storage boxes, and cut up fruit so it’s quicker and easier to eat. Avoid anything that will get ruined in the sun, or pack in a cool bag / with an ice pack. Try freezing Frubes or an extra drink which can act as ice packs and will defrost through the day.
Book – have one on the go for sports events, then you can keep it in the car ready to go. I leave my book I read at swimming in the car, because it’s the only time I read proper books rather than my Kindle (no electronics allowed at the pool)
Battery pack – charge phones if you’re out all day. Take 2 cables if you and your child have different phones.
Medical pack – just a basic pack if you don’t have one in the car already. Include a cold muscle spray, rock tape, small pair of scissors, antiseptic lotion, plasters, bandage, safety pin / tape, blister plasters.
Spare equipment if needed. For tennis I usually have my racket in the car in case I’m needed to hit with as a warm up if we’re early. A couple of tennis balls, and a spare grip plus scissors. Swimming would include spare goggles.
Camera – a phone will generally do, but you never know when you’ll want a team record or action shots. Just make sure you check with the club and other parents if they mind their children being in photos. If not, you might need to get a long zoom to just pick out your child.
Notepad and pen – it might take time for tournament / team websites to put scores up
Scorecards – for team matches, sometimes you might need scorecards if the coach isn’t with them.
It doesn’t take much to be prepared, but it’s worth getting organised to save time each day you need everything.
How do you get organised as a sports parent? What sports do your children play?
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