The Key to Having a Happy Relationship with Your Coach, Athlete or Parent


I once came across this quote: “Happy relationships depend not on finding the right person, but on being the right person.”

And I immediately though how true this is for our relationships in the gym.

If you are a parent, it is easy to point to flaws in the gym.  First because they exist.  Second because it is always easier to tear down something than to build it up. 

It’s very easy to find mistakes that the management or coaches made, the teammates of your child and even your child herself because they are all human and will inevitably fall short of expectations or do something obtuse.

If you are a coach or gym owner, there is no shortage of examples of parents who have unrealistic expectations, who coddle their children to the point of crippling them and who assume nothing but bad faith.

If you are one of the adults, it’s common to feel frustrated that the kids are not working to their potential, that they act entitled, that they don’t take care of the equipment or they expect results without putting in the effort. 

If you are an athlete it’s normal to fight with your parents and to feel misunderstood by your coaches.

And then there are the fights that we have within our peer groups.  Parents who bicker among themselves, forming cliques and spreading gossip.  Coaches and management at odds over each feeling that the other doesn’t understand how hard they work.  Coaches who argue among themselves over rotation schedules or moving kids up a group.  And gymnasts feeling envious of teammates for getting more attention, having better results than they do or taking the good beam. 

Here is the thing: we are all humans.  Humans in close proximity who are working toward goals.  And, while on one hand that should make us have a common bond (and it does), it also means that we are likely to bump up against one another’s tender spots and irritate each other.  We are going to disappoint, annoy and even anger one another.  Which leads to us wanting to change the other party. 

If only the gym would do X…

If only the coaches would do Y…

If only the gymnasts and parents would do Z…

We are all very good at the “if only they”s. 

But, as the quote reminds us happy relationships depend not on finding the right person, but on being the right person. 

What if instead of wishing or insisting others change we looked to change ourselves? 

After all, the only person’s behavior we can control is our own.  So it is not only an interesting idea, but really the only effective way for us to experience meaningful change that is within our control. 

Yes, it’s more work.  It might even mean going the extra mile to do so.  But isn’t a happy relationship worth it?   

We are the key to happiness in our own relationships.