Dr Scott Drawer invites parents and coaches to see how important patience is in enabling out children to thrive in sport. Scott is the Director of sport at Millfield School but has also worked in a number of exceptional high performance environments. His letter is both encouraging and challenging. 

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting” Joyce Meyer If you didn’t know it through your own experience, sport is magical in the way it supports our emotional development.

It doesn’t matter if it is your favourite team or person winning a League or Cup or medal or observing your own child in their first ever coaching sessions. It creates indelible memories that shape our lives.

I have my own memories which have shaped me – Champions League Final with AC Milan vs Liverpool in 2005; being in the London Olympic stadium on Super Saturday in 2012; through to my first ever football match at U11s playing for Kitto Hawks in Plymouth (we won 8-0 and I scored 7… and set up the first of course… but it wasn’t about the goals, even at that age my motivation was about making the most of an opportunity). I still remember the details around the timing of these events more than anything – the weather, the noise, the people around me and the feelings at the time. These were critical events as a participant, supporter, coach and administrator that have impacted on my attitude and approach to my own life and that of being a parent. And they were all emotional and about how they made me feel. Every child will experience the same and no matter how much we have seen sport evolve and grow in the past 20 years it remains magical, meaningful, behaviour developing and memory making.

The challenge we face as coaches and parents is allowing those experiences to do the same for our own children in a rapidly changing world. Sport is a right for every child (https://www.unicef.org.uk/sport-for-development/safeguarding-in-sport/) and we should view our responsibility as coaches and parents as a privilege to allow children to fully experience the opportunity afforded through sport by being supportive, understanding and most of all, by being patient. Sport is a great leveller – it doesn’t care about your background, it only cares about the effort, commitment and respect you show in your chosen sport and to those around you. You will experience more mistakes than successes; you will lose more than you win; you will compete against others who are better than you; but, you will have more opportunities to improve faster than any other development environment you experience.

The ability to live in the moment with your child and retain balance and perspective is a true test for all parents. It needs patience. The thing to understand is that these ups, downs and sideways steps – which happen every day, week, month and year in your sporting journey – only impact on behaviours later in life and sometimes not until your child is an adult. You need to acknowledge this unpredictability, be the responsible adult, recall your own positive experiences and demonstrate the wisdom you have accrued.

Real genius is eternal patience (Michaelangelo). There is no better way of demonstrating this genius through the support you show in your child’s journey through sport.

Dr Scott Drawer is currently Director of Sport @ Millfield Senior School. He was spent his career in all forms of sport, high performance, talent development, team sports, individual sports, invasion games, endurance and many more formats in GB Olympic and Paralympic sport, RFU, Team Sky / Ineos.

Social Media: @millfieldsport