The packed programme of the Gazprom Neft Cup did not stop tournament organisers from arranging interesting events off the ice for all participants. Among them were seminars on sporting psychology for the parents of young athletes, which ran simultaneously in Omsk and Sochi.
Within the ‘Good Ice’ programme presented by the Elena and Gennady Timchenko Foundation with the aim of supporting projects for the development of children’s ice hockey, many questions were addressed. The participants were interested primarily in one idea — how to develop not just the athlete, but the person, how to raise a person with character.
Yulia Rodygina, M.D., head of the Psychology Department at Lesgaft National State Institute of Physical Education, Sport and Health’s, shared her thoughts after the seminar at the Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi:
„I had a great feeling after the opening ceremony in Sochi! The organization has been great. I went to the Dynamo — CSKA game and the multimedia show and, believe me, it made a big impression. Of course, I was a bit worried about the kids. They were all looking forward to it so much and they must have been really excited even before the ceremony was over. As for the seminar with the parents, that all went really well. The parents had a lot of questions and after the general session a lot of them waited for a chance to ask specific questions about their own children. It’s not the first time we’ve done something like this, we’ve been running these seminars at the Gazprom Neft Cup and other competitions for two years now. Everywhere we go, people are interested in hearing from us. Every parent encounters some difficulties in bringing up a young athlete. For example, a coach struggles to find time to talk to the players and motivation fades. The kids lose interest in going to training and drift away from the sport altogether. What should the parents do in that situation? From my experience, I can say that the more prestigious the team, the harder it is for the kids. The pressures are much greater.”
„Children’s sport is developing very quickly. Kids are starting to take part in major sporting events at a young age. And if a six-year-old maybe isn’t completely caught up in the training process, for older kids it’s already a lot like pro sport — most of their free time is spent on sport and not so much with their families. And that’s where sports psychology can help. Adult athletes have a greater focus on motivation and achieving goals, but youngsters face other pressures outside of sports. That’s why child athletes need even greater support.”
„I teach at the Higher School of Coaching. We often have visits from specialists who are not from the big cities, but from the provinces. I can assure you that even there, people understand the importance of sports psychology and how it should work to help not just the kids but also their parents. After all, without expert advice the training process can be disrupted, the coaches say, parents can interfere and even try to give advice to coaches, and that makes their work more difficult. But we don’t have enough experts and I always stress the importance of encouraging more professional sports psychologists.”
The seminar in Omsk, which covered the psychology of young hockey players, and their upbringing, was presented by the associated professor of general and educational psychology in the faculty of psychology and pedagogy, D.Sc. in psychology Alexandra Fyodorovna Filatova.
„I was at the opening game of the tournament between Avangard and Ak Bars and as a psychologist, I watched the reactions from the stands, the players, and the parents. I liked how they celebrated when the players scored goals. Before the seminar, we carried out some preliminary testing and everyone learned their results. I was glad that everyone who was tested had good figures, they respect independence of the child, try to give him freedom as appropriate, so that he can grow mentally. There were practically no conflict situations in the family, no arguments between different family members, there were quite good marital relationships. On the scale of articulation they had very high results; they were able to explain to the child what they want. This is praiseworthy. I have tested other parents, and they frequently perform less well. The group of the athletes’ parents surprised me in the testing with their great results. These are ideally harmonious families.
At the seminar, we spoke about the specifics of this age, we spoke about the specifics of relationships between parents and children, between coaches and children, coaches and parents, and we did a few more tests at the parents’ wishes. We worked out useful recommendations for the parents, we warned them to be sure that the children not become starstruck. Here it is really important for the parents not to interfere, but just to help support their children in their own development as athletes.
We were helped by the methodology guides by Yu. K. Rodygina and Ye. V. Khomko which I relied on, since I have not been working on sports psychology very long. I like this, because I am a real hockey fan.”
What is special about sports psychology?
Alexandra Filatova: Sports psychology is applied psychology. It’s based on general psychology, developmental psychology, family psychology, social psychology, and personal, individual’s psychology. But it is of a more applied nature, it requires an understanding of how to support young athletes, understanding the principle of causing no harm, understanding that no matter how good the achievements might be, there is this danger of becoming starstruck. Sports psychology is quite complex.
There is a sports psychologist Rudolf Maximovich Zagainov, who worked in this profession his whole life. He wrote a book called The Cursed Profession. This a memoir of a practicing psychologist, pulling back the curtain on his work in unpredictable situations under conditions of the highest responsibility and mixed in with many thoughts on modern sports and the work of a practicing psychologist.
The children have a coach, but there are difficulties in the coach-athlete relationship. There are a lot of conflicts, including due to parental action. They often consider their own child to be particularly special, even a genius, and they might feel that the coach is not spending enough time on their special child. Some try to get a new coach and this is also not good. There are a lot of nuances.
Marina Popova, mother of Ilya Popov, Ugra-2005 player:
„I learned something new from this seminar. I think that a psychologist’s support is absolutely essential for sports teams. Any game requires appropriate psychological preparation. The game will proceed based on the child’s attitude. Yes, the coach has knowledge, that’s why he is a coach and a teacher, he has to find the right approach to the child, but a psychologist does this better. It’s clear that skills, strength, endurance, that’s all important, but if the child is not prepared psychologically, the game won’t work out.”
„This seminar gave me a lot, especially on questions about family psychology, the relationship between parents and children,” added Vitaly Ostapenko, father of a young hockey player. „How to behave with regard to the child, how to react to his successes and failures. How parents should behave to have the most success in bringing him up and so that everything is good within the family. At
Tatyana Gladkikh, mother of Avangard-2005 forward Yegor Gladkikh:
„Thank you to the organisers for this seminar, for thinking about the parents, so that we could understand our children better. Children who play hockey are slightly special children, focused on sports. They have a different life, a different plan of the day.”
Question: The seminar touched on the issue of proper diet. What can you say on this topic?
Tatyana Gladkikh: We are also categorically opposed to fast food. Stewed fruit, dry apricots, nuts, sports supplements, a good balance of proteins, fat, and carbohydrates. Our coach Viktor Vladimirovich Arkhipov tells the kids the same thing. Before the tournament, we even had a lecture on nutrition. You get a full understanding, both from the family side and the hockey family side. Of course, the kids want to eat fast food, but that happens very rarely and just as a little treat.