If SportsSignup had it our way, every kid in America would play on some youth sports team and love every second of it. Obviously we are a little biased (not everyone loves sports as much as us!), but the last thing we want is for a child to actively dislike or even hate sports. Especially if it’s due to something that could have been avoided! Parents have a big impact on how their kids feel about sports and here are four things sports parents can do (usually by accident) that can sour your child’s opinion of youth sports.
1. Forces them to play a particular sport.
A lot of parents register their kids for a local sports organization because they themselves loved belonging to a youth sports team as a kid. Hopefully your child will love sports as much as you did, but it’s important to remember that your child is their own person, not a chance to relive your glory years. You might have been an ace baseball catcher in your day, but maybe your son would rather play soccer or golf. Maybe your daughter prefers swimming over tennis. It’s hard to love sports when you have to play one you hate because mom and dad said so. Should you sign your child up for sports and encourage them to give it a go? We say yes! But don’t force them into a sport they don’t like. If your child clearly loves one sport over another than just let them play!
2. Embarrasses them from the sidelines.
No youth athlete wants their mom or dad to be “that” sports parent. You know the one—the one who coaches from the sidelines, yells at the officials or opposing team, gets into arguments with other sports parents and so forth. Most youth athletes put enough pressure on themselves already, you don’t need to be adding fuel to the fire by telling your son he’s playing like a girl or moaning and groaning about how your daughter missed a shot on goal. Sometimes even well intentioned comments can embarrass your athlete if they get taken the wrong way, so be sure what you say is what they hear.
3. Doesn’t support them.
So maybe you weren’t the biggest sports fan as a kid. Maybe you were more into music or drama, or you spent the weekends working on cars or volunteering at your church or what have you. But you have a child that really likes to play sports—so please support them and their hobbies, even if you aren’t the biggest sports person. Some kids may not mind, but most kids want the approval of their parents and want to make you proud of them. Seeing a smiling face in the stands can make all the difference for a youth athlete. Even if you can’t make it to every game, make it a point to attend a few throughout the season and show your support for what they love to do.
4. Compares them to their teammates.
Like we just said, most kids want their parents to be proud of them. You may not even realize that you’re doing it but make sure you aren’t comparing your child to their teammates too often because it can start to eat away at their self-confidence. Comments like “You need to run the bases more like Mike,” or “Jane practices all the time, that’s why she’s better” might not be meant as harmful, but sometimes it can come across like you aren’t proud of your own child and what they have achieved. Should you push your child to get better? Of course! But that’s why you need to have constructive criticism—praise them for what they did right, then focus on what could be improved and make a plan to get there.