Hang around any spring youth sports event and you will hear and see parents who are making April fools of themselves.
You know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen it. You may have even contributed to it. Parents yelling negative comments to players and coaches. Parents being way too hard on their kids. Parents obsessing about their kids’ playing time. The list goes on and on.
But the foolishness can stop with you.
1. Leave the coaching to the coach. Some parents, understandably, like to pace the sidelines. I get it. But parents who walk up and down coaching their kid from the sidelines distract the players and undermine the coach. If you really want to help your kid, work with him or her on your own time.
2. Be a team supporter. Cheer for your kid, and cheer for others on the team as well. Be an encouraging voice for every player on the field.
3. Leave the coach alone during the game. Better yet, leave him alone for at least 24 hours after the game. Give yourself and him time to cool down.
4. Encourage your child to be a team player. This is one of the toughest lessons for a young athlete to learn, but your attitude as a parent plays a huge part. They will mimic what they hear at home. Talk to your child about how every person on the team is important, about accepting responsibility for his mistakes and not blaming others.
5. You be a Team Player. One of the best ways for your child to learn how to be a team player is for him to see you model it. Your positive attitude about his coach, team, and behavior during the game is important. Your help with driving, working the snack bar or providing a team meal also shows that you are a team player.
6. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. I think we all remember our moms saying that, and nowhere is it needed more than in a crowd of spectators.
Just last night at my daughter’s basketball game, a man next to me yelled to the court after my daughter made a pass to a girl that dropped the ball, “Get her out of there!”
I turned to him and said, “You better not be talking about my daughter!”
“What’s her number?” “10.” “Oh, no I’m not talking about her. She’s doing a great job.” Hmmmph.
Be careful what you say; you never know whose parent you are sitting by.
7. Let the ref do the job in peace. I know refs and umps are sometimes bad. But complaining never changes anything. All it does is relieve your frustration. That’s it. They won’t change a call because you complain.Their job is not an easy one. And if you really think he or she is doing such a bad job, talk to his superiors later.
8. Don’t count the minutes/innings. You will enjoy the game a lot more if you are not obsessed with how many minutes or innings your child plays. Parents usually worry about it more than kids do. If you think your child is not getting enough playing time, this will only frustrate you.
9. Stay positive, even if it’s not a happy ending. Whether your child’s team loses or your child has a bad game, the last thing he or she needs after the game is your critique of what went wrong. Let them feel bad, give them a hug, tell them you are proud of their effort, and let it go.
10. See the bigger picture of sports. Playing sports brings excitement and recognition. Who knows? It may even help pay for college and open doors for the future, but nothing will ever be more important than the type of person your son or daughter becomes in the process. MLB pitcher Bob Lemon had it right when he said, “Baseball was made for kids, and grown-ups only screw it up.”
Resolve this spring to enjoy your kids’ sports and stay away from the April foolishness.
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