We have all been there. You are standing on the line at your child’s soccer game and an obnoxious sports parent goes wild. If the crowd is lucky, that mom or dad yells at the ref. If we are unlucky, we hear that loud, angry language aimed at a child. If you confront them, they say they are doing it to make their child play better; make the team work harder; make the ref call the game more fairly.
In reality, these “crazy sports parents” are doing much more harm than good, not only for their child, but also for the whole team. If you are uncomfortable, imagine how the children feel. What lessons they are learning about how adults interact with each other?
How can we all be great sports parents? How can I tell if I am the crazy sports parent? Read on for some insider BaxterSports tips and strategies to perfect your sports parenting game.
Leave the refs alone
Believe us or not, but the referees at your child’s game have only one goal: they want your son or daughter to learn how be a better player. The ref is not trying to sabotage your daughter’s future WNBA career or ruin your son’s chances for the MLB. What they want is for your child to play by the rules, to learn any rules they might not know, and to learn the most important sports skill of all: sportsmanship.
Your job as a great sports parent is to support the refs. Children learn from example! Show your child how to respect the people in their lives -both on the field and off – who are authority figures. Greet the umpire before that little league game and see how his family is doing; after the soccer match, thank the referee for her time and her enthusiasm.
If you are the parent who gets really excited or nervous during a game and you just have to let it out, shout praise. A “Nice Call, Ref!” will make their hard work feel worth it and your child on the bench proud that their mom or dad is the Good Guy in the stands.
Calmly talk with coaches in private
If your child is a committed, enthusiastic athlete, chances are that you were their coach once or twice. You probably know how difficult it is to balance all the talents, skills, passions, and abilities of young athletes. You want them to grow as individuals as well as sportsmen and sportswomen. The burden of their athletic future is briefly on your shoulders. Remember that when your child feels a coach is not supporting them or when you look on and feel that a coach is not trusting your child.
Rather than shout from the stands, or reprimand a coach after practice, remember that the coach is your ally and your child’s best supporter during the game. Talk to them one-on-one about your concerns. They will understand your worries and you might understand their choices.
If your son or daughter is old enough, this might even be a good opportunity to teach them how to have tough conversations with adults. After complaining to my father all season that my 9th grade coach wouldn’t play me, he told me to step up and address the coach directly before the season ended. She listened, put me in the next game, and then promoted me to Varsity in 10th grade. She told me that it was both my playing and the maturity I showed to talk to her that earned my move up.
Leave other parents’ kids alone
This should go without saying: Parents, leave the other kids alone!
You are on the sidelines to cheer for your child and support your child’s hard work and effort. All those hours practicing her jump shot or his spike are worth it for today’s game! Be the best fan she ever wanted; cheer him on even if he plays for only one minute.
As for the rest of the team, they are the responsibility of the coach, the ref, and their own parents. If your child’s teammate makes a great shot, definitely cheer them on! But if they miss the goal and lose the game, console your child and leave the other child alone. If you can muster words of support for both children, that’s even better!
Children should learn from mistakes, not be penalized for them. Children feel bad enough already without other adults reminding them of their mistakes. As a great sports parent, you also support your child and his teammates, whether they win or lose.
Don’t “coach” your child during competition
You were your child’s first coach, their inspiration, and their motivation. You taught her your signature move and you spent hours with him practicing his foul shot. Of course you know your child’s strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. But when it is game time, they need to stand on their own.
The coach needs to be a coach and your son or daughter should learn to listen to them in clutch situations. The coach sees the whole game, not just one player, and for a team to succeed, there must be just one person in charge. The directions your shout from the sidelines may help your child in a practice situation in the driveway, but they deter your young athlete from being a team player when there are other teammates on the court.
If you want to shout advice, remember that your child is being an excellent teammate by listening to the coach instead of you, and change your call to a show of support for the whole group.
Something to keep in mind
Your job as a great sports parent is to show your child that you love them whether they win or lose. You are their role model in all aspects of their life and, as great athletes, they play fair, win with grace, and lose with dignity.
At Baxter Sports, we can help if you still have questions or need some support to be the best sports parent on your team. You can check out some great strategies to motivate your young athlete elsewhere on our blog. And you can register your son or daughter for one of our excellent and award-winning sports camps here.
You can also trust that our team of expert coaches will always put you and your child first. We offer workshops in Sports Psychology not only for players, but also for coaches and parents and we are sure that you will find a nurturing sports environment with us that doesn’t sacrifice competitive advantage.
When you are ready for your young athlete to take the next steps towards sportsmanship, skill, and the pure enjoyment of their sport, join us this Summer. This is the Summer you learn how to be that crazy sports parent who actually let’s their child just play!