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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What Parents Need to Know About Employing a Performance Enhancement Professional

Before you consider hiring a performance enhancement professional for your sports-minded child you should first ask yourself this question: Why do you want to secure the services of someone to supplement the training your children are receiving from their school or club coaches?

If your answer centers on getting your son or daughter a college scholarship, creating a young Olympian, or even making them the star of their team, then it might be best to reconsider this option. These types of goals need to come from your children themselves, and, in most cases, at latter stages of their sports careers. In addition, it is very important to keep in mind that only a very small percentage of athletes (out of the significant number who participate in sports) will ever reach a level high enough to garner a college scholarship, and an even smaller percentage will gain Olympic status. The odds for the latter are astronomical.

However, if you are looking to give your children an opportunity to learn solid fundamentals, develop good overall coordination, balance, and agility (along with other physical skills that expand their range of skills), and that you believe that this extra training will enhance their chances of developing a “love of the game” or love of sports participation in general, then a performance enhancement professional might be a good option. A performance enhancement expert’s contribution to achieving these objectives with your children can be immeasurable. However, the key to making a good decision will be in knowing what to look for when selecting and hiring such a qualified expert. The following guidelines can be of help in choosing an expert to work with your children:

Guidelines for Selecting a Performance Enhancement Professional

> Seek out others (respected parents and accomplished athletes) who have used such services and ask for specific reasons why they either liked or disliked the training. Ask:

· What did the expert emphasize?
· What were his priorities?
· Was the training fun, stimulating, and challenging?

> Keep in mind the stated priorities of those from whom you are seeking counsel on the costs and benefits of performance enhancement services. Always keep your objectives as a central focus when evaluating information they supply.

> Ask your child’s club and/or school coach for references and always inform them of what avenues you have chosen. Keep them in “the loop” so that they do not feel your decision to seek outside coaching is a criticism of them.

> Look for professionals who place high priority on the overall development of the individual athlete and the team as a whole. This includes the following:

· The fundamental and basic skills, components, and strategies of the game or sport
· Emphasis on sports-specific fitness training and injury prevention
· A clear-cut commitment to overall athletic development that places potential as the primary goal while appreciating the importance of developing winning ways as one of many important objectives

> Look for someone who:

· Is passionate about what they do
· Demonstrates a genuine caring for the athletes under their direction
· Shows a strong emphasis on the social and psychological development of their trainees and is concerned about the impact of their training on their lives both in and out of sports
· Talks more about the positive influence their training can have on the athlete and team as a whole and much less about the number of “wins” they have accumulated or the scholarships their athletes have earned

> The sports enhancement professional you are seeking should have credentials/qualifications, a reputation, and a positive track record that support his ability to deliver on his claims

> Conduct an informal interview of candidates you are considering. Ask:

· What is their general philosophy of sports training?
· Where do they place their emphasis when working with athletes, and with teams?
· How do they set priorities for the athletes with whom they are working?
· How they go about determining this emphasis and these priorities in working with athletes?
· What are their general feelings on establishing a line of communication between them and your child’s club and/or high school coach?
· Whether and/or how do they evaluate the athletes they train?
· How they make training fun, yet stimulating and challenging?
· What they would ultimately like to accomplish with your child—that is, what would be their goals?”

> Look for responses to the above questions that:

· Create the fundamental development of the athlete and/or the team
· Demonstrate creativity and a certain willingness to “think outside the box”
· Encourage the development of character, integrity, sense of commitment, team selflessness, good sportsmanship, etc.
· Show that they teach and emphasize goal setting, priority setting, and a strong work ethic
· Focus upon approaches that support and encourage consistency among all parties involved in your child’s athletic life

> Evaluate whether there where any inconsistencies between information you gained from conversations with others (parents, athletes, and coaches) regarding each candidate and the responses the experts gave when you talked with them. Use this information to help establish the best professional for your needs.

> Determine the time commitments they will expect from your children and the cost of their services. Determine whether this fits:

· The objective that you and your child have for securing the services of an expert
· Your child’s goals, level of commitment, age, maturity, interest, and skill level
· Your pocketbook

> If you decide to secure the services of a performance enhancement expert, evaluate their contributions to your children’s athletic and personal development regularly by assessing:

· The fundamental athletic development of your child – Has there been steady and progressive improvement?
· Your children’s interest level – Has it increased or decreased?
· Improvements in your children’s priority setting and time management, etc.?
· Gains in things like work ethic, sportsmanship, commitment, selflessness, respect, character and integrity?


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