Annoying teammates have been on almost every team my kids have played on in my 21 years of sports parenting. You probably know what I’m talking about. Has your child ever played with someone who rubs his teammates the wrong way?
He may be cocky, selfish, bossy, or slow. She may be a drama queen, timid, or apathetic about the game.
There’s a whole bunch of ways to be annoying, and your child is bound to run into those annoying types as he plays sports (hopefully he or she is not one of them!).
The solution is not to switch teams or let your child quit. The answer is to equip your child with these tools to help cope with annoying teammates.
The ability to understand. Talk with your child about what it means to seek to understand why someone acts the way they do. Discuss with your young athlete why the annoying teammate may be responding as he does. Maybe his mom or dad is putting a lot of pressure on him to excel. Or maybe he’s trying to live in the shadow of an amazing older sibling. There’s always more to the story that what you and your child see on the surface.
Slow Tongue, quick ears. It is only when your child really listens to others that he or she will understand. Sometimes that means not retorting to a smart remark or not trying to argue every point with a teammate who thinks he knows it all. Encourage your child to learn to listen to others. It’s not that he or she should never speak up, but learning when to speak so that it is most clearly heard is a skill your child will use for life. (P.S. the absolutely best way for kids to learn this is by following your example!)
Gratitude. Thankfulness is a tool your child can use to combat the negativity of teammates. Teach your child to be grateful for big and small victories, for the ability to play and have fun, for the privilege of playing on a team and doing what he loves. There’s something contagious about gratitude and if your child starts the ripple, it could eventually change the dynamic of a team, including those annoying competitive colleagues.
Focus. The more your child learns to focus on his own game, the less he will be distracted by the shenanigans of teammates. That is a skill that will come with time and maturity, but you can encourage it by talking about his game, about the game, more than you complain about his teammates. And when he wants to rant about annoying colleagues, let him rant and then bring his focus back to what he can do to make things better on the team. Help him learn to focus on what he can do to help, not what on a teammate is doing to hinder.
Annoying Teammates are here to stay
As long as there’s youth sports, there will be annoying athletes. Help your child learn early that bothersome teammates do not have to be a distraction or a hindrance to him playing his best and enjoying a sport he loves.
Don’t waste another minute! The next season of youth sports is upon you.
Get my free new report: Sportsparents’ Guide: 55 time & money-saving tips guaranteed to make your life easier. You’ll also get regular sports parenting tips each week and a weekly parenting tip. Sign up here.