As a young athlete, you may struggle to ask for respect from your coach, your peers, and even your parents. For example, you might need your coach to communicate feedback differently or you may want your teammates to stop using a particular nickname.
Here, board-certified family physician and TrueSport Expert Deborah Gilboa, MD, explains how to ask for the respect that you need from anyone within your sports circle, from doctors to coaches to teammates.
Start with Self-Respect
It’s hard to ask for respect from others if you struggle to respect yourself, says Gilboa. In many cases, having self-respect can look like a series of practical actions, rather than just an attitude or feeling that you adopt. For example, self-respect can mean arriving at practice on time and properly fueled with an afternoon snack, showing that you respect your body and role as an athlete. You can also demonstrate self-respect by respecting your own boundaries out loud, with something like ‘I have to get some sleep tonight, but I’d love to hang out tomorrow.’
Set Your Own Boundaries
Maybe you’ve never thought about what your boundaries are before. Now is the time to start, since it’s hard to demand respect—which includes respecting your boundaries—if you can’t articulate them. Gilboa says this can start with simple things: “Is there a name you prefer to be called? Do you not want to talk about competition on weekends, or during lunch at school? Figuring out and communicating your boundaries makes it possible for people to respect them.”
Respect Is a Two-Way Street
It’s important to note that there is a balance here. Developing a set of boundaries and sticking to them is important and helps you demand respect, but you still have to give respect while maintaining your own boundaries. For example, you can politely but firmly tell your coach that you can’t do an extra practice because you have another commitment, and you may suggest an alternative plan, like doing an extra strength workout at home.