How Tim Hardaway Sr. Learned To Be A Better Sports Dad

This guest post comes to us from Dr. Andrea Corn, youth sports psychologist and Ethan Skolnick, a sportswriter for the Palm Beach Post covering the Miami Heat:

How does an athletic parent motivate their child? Frequently, with the same tactics that worked with them when they were young. In Raising Your Game: Over 100 Accomplished Athletes Help You Guide Your Girls and Boys Through Sports, Tim Hardaway Sr., acknowledges that, as a child, he took constructive criticism well. He turned others' doubts into the motivation, “to show you I could do it,” he says. His toughness in the face of adversity helped him survive and even thrive in a rough neighborhood on the south side of Chicago.
While developing into an outstanding basketball player, he also developed thick skin. Those attributes propelled him through a long, successful NBA career, which recently earned him selection as a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame.

As his son, Tim Jr., became an emerging high school basketball standout, Tim Sr. took the same approach that others had taken with him. He ordered, complained, criticized and didn’t relent when his son seemed to falter. His son, however, didn’t have his dad's disposition. They argued frequently, and the stress affected the entire household.

One day the Warriors and Heat star decided to sit away from his family, far up in the bleachers for one of Tim Jr’s high school games. He saw the game and the ghost of his own behavior literally from a different perspective. Hardaway’s son lost, but the Hardaway family gained something: Tim Sr. chose a different approach.  He apologized on the car ride home and promised more praise. That action proved to be as healthy  for him as it was for his son.

More than a band aid that day, dad’s change of heart and the realization of their unique and independent temperaments proved to be more powerful than he first realized. Hardaway’s transformation and the space he gave his son brought them closer together.

This year at the NCAA Tournament, Tim Sr. wore Michigan maize and blue, and watched his son score 12 points en route to a loss in the Final Four to Louisville. But especially when the box score didn't offer much support, Hardaway Sr's change -- to building up rather than breaking down his son -- allowed his son to continue to know that somewhere inside lives a winner. 

Hardaway Jr will enter the NBA draft this year. And he'll do it with a rebuilt relationship with his father.