Are you a crazy youth sports fan? Or do you actually enjoy watching your child play because you’ve learned how to let youth sports be youth sports?
Today’s guest post by Scott Rosberg from Coachwithcharacter.com asks the question that every sports parent needs to answer: what kind of fan are you?
Attending your son or daughter’s competitions can be a highlight as you watch your child grow through adolescence into young adulthood. When done right, it is a healthy, loving relationship that child and parent are able to develop and nurture around the common bond of sports.
Over the last 30 years as a coach, athletic director, and parent, I have seen incredible examples of great parents who truly handled their role as a parent of a young athlete, and they were models of how we would all want that relationship to be.
Unfortunately, not everyone handles that situation in the right way. Too many parents are overzealous fans, who scream at officials, coaches, opponents, and other players on their own child’s team.
What Is Your Youth Sports Fan Behavior Teaching Your Child?
This behavior is the exact opposite of what we are trying to teach our kids. We try to teach our kids to exhibit poise and control in tough situations, but these parents are modeling the exact opposite of poise and control.
Think about what that behavior is: one adult yelling across upwards of 100 feet at another adult because the one adult believes the other adult made a mistake. Where else in the world do we encourage, let alone allow, such behavior?! Nowhere that I can think of. But in the arena of sport, it is acceptable. That is just not right.
While watching your children’s games, please be a model for kids on how to behave. Help them understand that the way to act is with confidence, poise, and control. Be the leader we are all meant to be for kids. Yell encouraging, positive, supportive comments to all of the participants.
The Best Sports Parenting Advice Ever!
After the game, give your child time and space to process what happened, whether it was a win or loss, a close game or a blowout, and whether or not he or she played a lot or a little in the game. Say something positive and encouraging, no matter what just happened, and then give him or her space. It is their game, not yours.
The best advice I was ever given as the parent of an athlete was when the director of Proactive Coaching (www.proactivecoaching.info), Bruce Brown said, “Release your kid to the game. Let him have this experience as his own. Be there as his support, but it is his thing not yours. Talk with him about it when he wants to talk about it. Let him work out the various problems and situations that he will face on his own as much as possible. Love him and support him, but release him to have this be his experience.”
That was the best advice I could have ever received. Now at games I sit and watch somewhat quietly, occasionally yelling out things like, “Great effort!” or “That’s the way to play together!” And I don’t only yell at my son. I communicate positive things to all of those involved.
After the game, my favorite thing to say to him also came from Coach Brown – “I love watching you play.” What else needs to be said? There is pretty much nothing I love more to do than to watch my son play a sport he loves to play, to see the sheer joy on his face doing one of the things he loves to do most.
I also always ask, “Did you have fun?” because that is what this is supposed to be all about for him. While there are times I would like to start analyzing what he did, I save that until he comes to me to talk about the game with him.
Sometimes, that moment never happens. And you know what – that’s okay.
As a veteran basketball coach of thirty years, I certainly have my share of knowledge that I can help him with after a basketball game. However, I have learned to forego the post-game analysis, and just concentrate on supporting him no matter what just happened. There will be a time and place down the road for me to help him out with his game if he wants it, but that time and place is not right after a game. It’s when he tells me he’s ready for it.
Don’t Be a Statistic!
Please consider these ideas as you watch and support your own children in their various sports, whether they are playing a school sport or club sport, whether they are 8 or 18, and whether they are the next Michael Jordan or the next kid who never makes the varsity but who just wants to play a game he or she loves.
Statistics show that about 70% of all kids who play sports when they are young are stopping by the age of 13. 70%!! That is truly alarming.
Many of the top reasons kids give when asked why they are quitting revolve around adults, usually a coach or a parent. Can you imagine finding out you were the reason why a child quit a game he or she loved? It would rip me apart to know that I was the cause of that.
Let’s make sure that we all do our best to help our kids have a great experience in athletics. Let’s be the best parents and fans that we can be.
Scott Rosberg has been a coach (basketball, soccer, & football) at the high school level for 30 years and an athletic director for 12 years. As an author, he has his own website, www.coachwithcharacter.com. Scott is also a member of the Proactive Coaching and can be reached email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or through his website.