Many youth sports coaches hold a pre-season meeting where they outline their expectations and rules for the season (for both the athletes and sports parents!), but what sort of ground rules should the sports parents set for their youth athletes and themselves? Keep in mind that it’s one coach versus a dozen kids and their parents, so chances are they are going to need a little help in keeping everything running smoothly this season. If you enforce some sports ground rules at home you’ll probably help enforce the coach’s rules on the field.
Here are 4 possible ground rules you might want to consider setting for your youth athletes:
1. If you sign up for a season you are expected to finish it.
Belonging to a youth sports team means that people are counting on you. You can try out any sport you want but know that you can’t decide a month in you don’t want to play anymore. You might not be the best player on the team (and that’s ok!); you might not know any of your teammates from school (think of it as a chance to make new friends!) or you may decide that football/baseball/soccer just isn’t for you (no problem!) but you have to stick it out for the season and next time around we can try something else.
2. You should always listen to and respect the coach.
During practice and games your coach is in charge so you need to listen to him and treat him with respect, just like you would your teacher at school. Your coach is in charge on the field/court and what he says goes, even if you don’t like it. No backtalk or attitude allowed!
3. Practice time is just as important as game time.
I know practices aren’t nearly as fun as game time, but practices are just as important! Practice is where you get to learn new skills and plays that you’ll need to know during the game—if you don’t practice how can you get better? Stay focused during the drills and give it your all every time. If you do your best in practice then you’ll be great during the game!
4. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone on the team, but you have to remember they are your teammate.
Even if you don’t like everyone on your team you need to be nice and treat them with respect. These kids are your teammates and you all have to work together if you want to win! No bullying, name calling or teasing allowed.
Here are 3 possible ground rules you might want to consider setting for yourself:
1. I will not coach from the sidelines.
If you expect your child to treat the coach with respect then you need to do the same. Coaching from the sidelines can undermine the coach’s authority and puts your child in a difficult situation—who should they listen to?
2. I will not harass the officials/coach/other team.
It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment, but don’t turn into “that sports mom/dad;” the one that yells and argues from the bleachers. You can’t expect your child to practice good sportsmanship if you don’t set a good example.
3. I will help the team out when I can.
Offer to be the designated driver for one practice and pick up an extra player or two so everyone gets there on time. Bring a case of water to the game on an extra hot day; offer your home for the end-of-season pizza party and so forth. There are plenty of ways a sports parent can do a little something to help out the team.
We’d love to hear from all the sports moms and dads out there—what kind of ground rules do you set for your youth athletes each season?