Never before has there been a sport where the Parent has to be so much.
In no particular order: coach, trainer, logistics, fun provider, secretary, taxi, chef, buyer, psychologist, support crew, clothing provider, financier, physiotherapist, timekeeper, groom, armourer, safety pin collector, water supplier, sleep protector, tutor, game keeper, scorer, analyst, researcher, nutritionist, parent…
Modern Pentathlon is a sport where there is always something new to learn and most excitingly, always some kind of fun you can have wherever you are.
Supporting a Modern Pentathlete is not for the faint-hearted parent but as the old adage says, you get back what you put in. In Mod Pen, you put a lot in.
The Pentathlon Parent is torn across 5 different sports, across 5 or more different training venues, where unquestionably there is at least 1 sport that is entirely alien to them.
So how does your child suddenly become a pentathlete?
More than likely, they will have started from 2 traditional routes in:
Firstly they may be a swimmer who discovers they can run a bit when their swimming club competes in a Biathlon competition (swim/run). The competition progression for them is that they would start shooting (triathlon competitions) then fencing (tetrathlon competitions) then finally riding (pentathlon competitions)
Alternatively, they may be a product of that equestrian institution known as The Pony Club where one of the sports on offer is their own version of Mod Pen – the Tetrathlon, where the fencing discipline is dropped.
How does your child go about BEING a Pentathlete?
The 2 core sports in need development from a young age are swimming and riding. Shooting/fencing and running are sports that require higher levels of strength, co-ordination and growth development. These 3 sports can be ‘dabbled’ with until puberty to prevent stress on the child’s body.
Swimming skill is developed at a young age, it is also great for developing cardiovascular strength and endurance without overstressing young skeletons. These 2 reasons are why pentathletes should spend time in the water as youngsters.
Riding also needs ‘time in the saddle’ to develop the child’s relationship with animals (pentathletes may have never owned a goldfish, let alone be asked to build a relationship with a ½ tonne animal) to enable to rider to learn to ‘read’ or ‘talk’ to the horse by learning their language.
Remember the biggest marginal gains are often made in the sport the child is least experienced at.
However – and here is the health warning:
All of the above is irrelevant if your child is not having fun.
Pentathlon is a sport that takes up the hours. Fun has to be a priority or they wont stay the distance. Fun can mean training with friends, finding fun ways of making the tricky parts seem easy, fun also means being given time to play at the sports. After all, your child is a child for many years.
Good luck…. Enjoy the journey… and remember you get out what you put in… fun is the key.