You may pay the bills, drive the car, and clean the uniform, but does your athlete really know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are in his corner?
We recently lost one of boxing’s greatest, Muhammad Ali. His name is known world-wide. But you’ve probably never heard of Angelo Dundee. Angelo was Ali’s cornerman for over two decades. He was the guy who supported and trained Ali from the corner of the rink, thus the title “cornerman.”
Does your child know that? Here are some very specific ways that you can act as your child’s cornerman:
Stay Out of the Fight
In the definition of cornerman, it says that he remains outside the combat area. Sports parents struggle to do that; they often cross over the line from parent to coach and thus enter the “combat zone.” They coach from the sidelines during the game and fight their child’s playing time battles. It’s easy for them to forget that their child is playing YOUTH sports.
Stay Close By
The cornerman definition also states that he remains close by in proximity. However, close proximity doesn’t mean pacing the sidelines or sitting through every practice. For sports parents, proximity means they are at as many games as possible, they show interest and support, and their kids know that mom and dad are their biggest advocate.
Cornermen are very protective of their fighters and they want to keep them from harm whenever possible. In fact, cornermen can throw in the towel and end the bout if their fighter’s taking excessive punishment and doesn’t appear to have a chance to win. Cornermen feel that it’s better to sacrifice a match than jeopardize a boxer’s future.
Provides for Athlete
A true cornerman also trains and coaches the boxer, so here is where the correlation between cornerman and sports parent doesn’t fit because it’s better if you are not the one doing the training and the coaching. I know there are many examples of parents who play that role, but for every good example, there are many more not-so-good stories of helicopter parents who insist on being in total control of their child’s training.
However, it is your job to see that your child gets what she needs–the coaching, the training, the opportunities, the equipment, etc. If you don’t insist on teaching your child how to read, write, do math, play the piano, or paint, then you don’t have to do it all in the sports arena either. Delegate the job to others who are more qualified.
You are also the one who needs to see that your child is getting proper nutrition and hydration. Start teaching them this when they are little, and by the time they are in middle-high school, they will hopefully understand how to take care of themselves.
Being in your child’s corner is the best way to support your athlete. Have you figured out how to strike the balance between hovering and total detachment? Trying being your child’s cornerman and I think you’ll find that balance.