2014 is almost here (how did that happen?). It’s time to start making your list of resolutions for the New Year and in-between going to the gym more and paying off some of your credit card debt why not add a few resolutions to make you a better sports parent in 2014?
1. I resolve to cheer for the whole team, not just my player.
Every kid is a critical part of your child’s team, so why not cheer for every player when something goes right? If the goalie makes a great save they should get a cheer, even if they aren’t your child. If the shortstop and second baseman pull off a double play give them a high five after the game. If you weren’t able to come to a game you’d want someone to cheer for your child if they scored a touchdown, right?
2. I resolve to keep my sideline behavior in check.
Let’s be honest, we’ve all gotten a little hot under the collar during a game. Maybe we yelled a little too much (and not the good, cheering kind of yelling), or gotten into a confrontation with another parent, the coach, or the official. Maybe we’ve tried to coach from the sidelines, make snarky side comments to other parents and so forth. And while being passionate about your child’s team is great please resolve to do a better job of keeping your sideline behavior in check in 2014. Think before you speak, and definitely before you act, and remember that how we behave on the sidelines influences how our kids act on the field. You wouldn’t get into a fist-fight at work, right? So why would you get physical with another parent at a Little League game?
3. I resolve to let the coach do their job.
If you really think you can do a better job than your child’s coach than by all means volunteer next season! And yes, sometimes you get stuck with a terrible youth sports coach, but for the most part our coaches are just regular parents like you, who have volunteered to run, organize, and teach a dozen little kids new skills. You may not agree with how the coach runs practices, or you may feel your child deserves more playing time, but if you ever disagree with the coach please resolve to talk them privately. Having an argument in front of the team and other parents doesn’t do anyone any good.
4. I resolve to let my child pursue their own sports dreams.
Okay, you might have been a superstar football or softball player back in the day but that doesn’t mean your child has to walk in your footsteps exactly. They might prefer tennis, or karate, or swimming—and that’s totally fine! We as parents have to resolve to not try to relive our own glory days through our children, and we have to remember that our kids are not mini-copies of us; they are their own people with their own likes and dislikes. If your child is absolutely miserable playing lacrosse forcing them to signup season after season isn’t going to make things change. Encourage them to finish out the season, because a commitment is a commitment, but then let them play the sport they want to play. Everyone will be happier!
5. I resolve to be more supportive and constructive and less critical.
It’s important to remember that what you say, what you mean, and what your kids hear can be three different things. Do you catch yourself saying things like “That was good, but…” after games? That “but” can undermine whatever compliment you just tried to give you youth athlete. Constructive criticism is great as long as you give your child something to work with. Look at the difference between these two comments;
“You only got one base once out of three times. Your swing is just too slow.”
“When you got on base today your swing was right on the money. You were just a little behind the other times but that’s something we can focus on next time you have batting practice.”
The point of each comment is the same, their swing is slow, but one is just critical while the other offers a solution. Kids, especially when they are learning a new sport, deserve our praise and support when they do something right so they don’t feel so overwhelmed that they don’t want to play anymore.