Whether your child is just picking up their first football or you’ve spent the last 6 summers with a travel baseball team, being a sports parent can be a challenging experience. In order to make sure you and your athlete get the most out of your time in a youth sports organization, here are 5 sports parent rules to live by.
1. Don’t coach your child from the sidelines.
During a game, your youth athlete should only be listening to instructions from their coaches. Remember that you are a spectator and not the coach of your child’s team. If you start telling your child what to do from the sidelines, you’re undermining the coach’s authority and putting your athlete in a difficult situation; who are they supposed to listen to?
2. Never get into a public confrontation with another parent, the officials or the coaches.
One of the main goals of youth sports is to teach your children the value of sportsmanship. As their parent, it is your duty to set a good example of what a “good sport” looks like. If you have a problem with the coach, talk to them in private after the game or practice. If you don’t agree with a call, you’re allowed to be upset but keep your frustration to yourself. You can’t hold your youth athletes to any standards you don’t adhere to.
3. Get your kids to practice/games on time.
Juggling the family schedule is no easy task, but as the parent you are the main method of transportation for your youth athlete. Until they can drive themselves to and from games/practices, it is up to you to get them there on time. When you’re late the whole team gets held up. Try planning out a weekly schedule so you know when and where you need to be each day. If you can’t make it on time, arrange for your child to get picked up by another family.
4. Praise your athlete for what they do right. Don’t focus on what they did wrong.
Remember that youth sports focuses on learning the fundamentals of their given sport. Your youth athletes are still learning and are going to make mistakes. They will be hard enough on themselves for making a mistake without you harping on what they did wrong. Try to stay positive and praise them for what they did right and focus on how they are improving.
5. Remember that it’s just a game.
This isn’t the NFL; it’s peewee football. Of course you’re going to get invested in your child’s sports team and will want them to win, but a youth sport team isn’t the most important thing in your child’s life. Your youth athlete should WANT to play, not feel like they are being forced to.