Top tips for parents

Key information for supporting your young racer

At British Youth Sailing, a core philosophy of our programme is to nurture sailors who:


- Have a desire to learn and be process driven


- Actively embrace challenge


- Apply effort using new strategies and tactics


- Explore and be comfortable with failure


We want our sailors to be able to fail smarter so that they learn faster to help them progress through the pathway and optimise their potential every step of the way. As parents, you are central to their support network, and play a key role in shaping the beliefs and mindset of your children. Through our support, we hope we can work together to continue to share and live our messages beyond the days your child spends inside the RYA environment.


You can find more information on this in our Performance Pathway Handbook.

Failure is not a lack of achievement. It is failing to try, to learn and to make the most of the opportunity

Top tips to support your sailors


Encourage independence

Encourage and allow sailors, appropriate to their age and level of the pathway to take increasing responsibility and ownership over their own campaign. This means giving the sailors the ‘know how’ rather than the ‘know who’, by teaching them the strategies for planning, nutrition, and boat work, as a few examples, by moving through a continuum from ‘parent does, child observes’ through to ‘child does, parent observes’.


Reward effort and persistence

Whatever the outcome may be, emphasise how hard they worked or how they could have worked harder. Using praise that rewards effort and persistence creates a dedication to learning and increases resilience. By rewarding effort, the sailor will begin to understand that effort is the path to mastery.


Allow and celebrate failure

Allowing sailors to make mistakes and fail smarter are learning opportunities, which allows for them to increase their resilience and learn faster from adversity. Giving sailors an opportunity to develop a strategy for handling failure will allow for them to develop and progress and repeatedly respond to failure by exerting more effort instead of simply giving up. Help them see the learning beyond the outcome of the event.


Model growth mindset behaviours and beliefs

Children learn how to behave by imitating others. That means one of the most powerful ways you can help your child develop these attributes is to model them with your own actions and your own beliefs. In particular, studies have shown that one powerful way that parents model a growth mindset in front of their children is through their reaction to failure.


Three questions to always ask:

  • What did you enjoy most today?
  • What have you learnt for next time?
  • What have you tried hardest at that you can be proud of?