How to Support an Athlete at Competition: Parent’s Edition

After hours of training, never ending drop offs and pickups, preparing snacks and packing leotards, the big day arrives! It’s competition time and the nerves are starting to build.

As a parent, you just want your children to be happy as they get onto the floor and show off their spectacular skills. So how do you help your gymnast cope with the excitement and pressure of competition?


GNSW had a chat with rhythmic Olympian Dani Le Ray– and she had some advice on how to support athletes at competition.

  • Project positivity

You need to be mindful of the way you are projecting your emotions, as your athlete will pick up on your stress and body language. Show that you know it’s a big occasion but it’s not letting that phase you.
Even if you are concerned about any mistakes or challenges in the lead up, be positive and show them you are confident in their abilities.

  • Accept mistakes

You need to be careful of what you say to your gymnast about their performance. If the athlete makes a mistake, let them know it’s part of the journey. They need to have experiences where things don’t go right as that’s when they learn the biggest lessons.

It’s really harsh when criticism comes from someone really close to you. Instead of focusing on the negative, you can comment on other elements of the performance – for example: “That skill was so cool! Your expression was so good. There were so many tricky things in that routine.”

  • Provide perspective

No one is perfect and no matter what happens, it’s not the end of the world. Remind your gymnast that they spend hours training every week, and they only need to perform well for a few minutes that day. Remind them that in the grand scheme of things, they are in fact doing flips on the floor, twirling a ribbon or jumping on a trampoline and how fun is that?!

  • Pour out the love

Let your gymnast know they are worth more than a performance, a routine or a competition. That you love them no matter what. Your love is unconditional, and they just need to do the best they can, for themselves.