Let’s start off by saying that we at SportSignup love to hear about parents getting involved in their child’s youth sports league. Many local organizations are struggling to find enough volunteer coaches and officials to keep things running smoothly so any parent that steps up when needed deserves a trophy in our book (whether or not you think everyone deserves a trophy for just “participating” is a debate for another day!). But some parents, as parents are apt to do, can get a little overzealous about their child’s athletic career. While enthusiasm is always appreciated there does come a point where your eagerness crosses the line and turns you from excited sports parent into frustrating helicopter parent.
We would hope that most sports parents out there don’t mean to cross that line but how is a parent to know when they’ve gone too far? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
1. Are you only offering to coach so your kid can be the star?
Be honest about this one—when you volunteer to coach a youth sports team you are responsible for the development of a dozen kids, not just you own son or daughter. If you don’t think you can give each player the attention and coaching they need to achieve their very best than maybe you shouldn’t volunteer as head coach. It’s going to become very obvious very quickly to all the other parents on the team that you’re only looking out for your own player and that won’t make for a very pleasant season.
2. Are you pushing your child to play sports because you did?
This question can be a little grey at times—if you played youth sports as a kid and loved it of course you want to give your own child the same awesome experience. And since 6-year-olds can’t register for soccer by themselves parents are obviously influencing their decision to play. But what if your child just doesn’t like baseball/basketball/football? Maybe they would prefer to play an individual sport like tennis or golf? Or maybe they’d be happier learning to play an instrument or join the school choir? Obviously we wish that everyone loved playing youth sports as much as we did when we were kids but you have to remember that our kids are their own people with their own interests and personalities. Encourage them to try but sports aren’t for everyone and that’s okay!
3. Does your whole life revolve around your child’s team?
Okay, so when your child is really serious about something you make it important to you as well. But are youth sports completely consuming your life? Are you already imagining the college scholarships while watching your son’s t-ball game? Can you see Olympic gold in your daughter’s gymnastics future at age 6? It’s important to remember at the end of the day that youth sports is just a game and it is supposed to be fun! If you find yourself turning into “that sports parent” on the sideline (yelling at the coach, the official, the other team’s players, etc.) that’s a good sign you’ve crossed the line. If you’ve ever gotten into a serious fight over youth sports chances are you are an overly involved sports parent.