Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis offers advice for parents, athletes

August 2, 2017 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
Nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis believes it’s healthy for athletes to feel pressure when competing in sports — as long as the pressure is not coming from parents.

Photo via AAUjrogames.org

Lewis spoke to athletes, parents and coaches earlier this week before the 51st annual AAU Junior Olympic Opening Ceremony at Eastern Michigan University. During a Q&A session, he gave some sound advice to helicopter parents and athletes.

From MLive.com:

Parents, coaches and young athletes crowded around the towering 6′ 2” Lewis for a Q&A before the start of the ceremony underneath a tent on the track. Lewis emphasized how the pressure to succeed and beat your best can be a healthy part of the sport, as long as it comes from the athlete themselves. He called on parents to back off the sidelines and make AAU an enjoyable, rather than stressful, experience for their children.

“Instead of sitting there on the sidelines screaming and yelling at the kid, observe what they’re doing and create a ritual. Go to somewhere afterwards and sit down somewhere they enjoy. Maybe it’s ice cream somewhere,” Lewis said.

Lewis went on to suggest that athletes be more receptive to their coaches. We hear more stories today of athletes who quit sports because their coach was “too hard on them.” Lewis asked them to “be more receptive to criticism” and learn everything they can from coaches.

“The more you learn as an athlete, the better you’ll be coached. What we really want ultimately is the coach to simply be your eyes. You can’t see yourself,” said Lewis, according to MLive.com.

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