Nine Important DONT’S for Parents at Competitive Youth Sports Events

There have been several occasions, in looking for sports and youth sports topics to discuss, that I’ve ended up on a site where Janis Meredith (JBMthinks) has published an article. What I find most interesting is that no matter how many weeks go by, eventually, at some point, I end up either back on her site, or on some site that has something thought-provoking written by her.

And not just thought-provoking from the standpoint of what she is writing but interesting because of her perceptive take on the topic, or topics, she chooses to discuss. She just seems to have a very good sense about what the youth sports experience should be about, and what athletes should be getting out of that experience.

As a wife of a veteran coach, and parent of three children who played sports, she has certainly seen the youth sports scene from a variety of angles. Yep, she has likely heard it all, run the gamut so to speak. It is this experience that brings a unique viewpoint to her writings.

Such is the case with her recent piece titled, 9 sports parent actions that will sabotage your child’s performance. A timely and perceptive piece that takes a look at common sports parent sideline behaviors.

Several of these actions include not “chew[ing] your kid from the sidelines, coaching them during the game, “show up at your kids’ game after you’ve been drinking” (yep, this happens), “yell at” or “confront” the coach during games, along with many other good pieces of advice. I encourage you to take a look at the link I provided above in order to get the full depth and breadth of why she highlighted these nine behaviors.

Now, as with much of what I read, the information presented usually gets me thinking beyond merely the words on the page, especially when it comes to sports and youth sports. I just tend to be one of those individuals who ask if there is more, or, are there other important things that should be brought to light.

Not meant to be a comprehensive list, here are five things parents should “DO” with regard to involvement in their offspring’s sporting life; things that I would add to help support Janis’ nine sabotaging parental actions.

Encouragement & Support – More than anything, parents need to encourage a young athlete’s involvement in sports as well as support them in those endeavors. This helps to give them some sense of security over their choice to be an athlete, and thus increases the likelihood that they will have a more positive experience, gain valuable life lessons, and be able to bounce back from setbacks and “failures” that occur through their participation.

Know the Program – Be aware of (going in) what the goals, objectives, vision, and mission, are of any athletic programs that your offspring is involved in. The more parents know about the philosophy of the “program,” the better equipped they will be at helping to handle situations that arise. And knowing all of these things allows one to give more solid direction when making choices regarding what is best, whether that be with circumstances that present themselves on school teams or choosing the “right” place/program for a child to participate in outside of school.

Cheer for Good Play from ALL – It is appropriate to applaud (in a respectful manner) excellent play. There is nothing wrong with showing suitable levels of excitement when players, whether your child or others on their team, do well. In fact, it is respectful, and a demonstration of good sportsmanship, when spectators (parents) offer congratulations to the opposing team over a game well played. This is true whether your son’s or daughter’s team wins or loses.

FUN – It is a good practice for parents to “check in” every once in a while with their child to make sure they are enjoying their athletic experience. This is especially true when athletes are younger, as one of the most important pieces for continued participation in later years is developing a “love for the game.” Adolescents need to really like playing their sport if the efforts they put in on a daily basis are to be viewed as worthwhile by them as they move through the different phases (ages) of athletic development/participation.

Effort is Key – It is important for parents to stay more focused on the efforts an athlete puts in rather than the outcome of “winning.” Don’t get me wrong, winning is great, but it must always be kept in proper perspective; one where winning is viewed more as an outcome of hard work and effort. In addition, winning is not something that is guaranteed no matter how hard one has worked or how much effort one puts in. It is not completely in their control. This is why there should be more importance, or focus, placed on the process piece, the effort, as that has value beyond just the athletic arena.

Again, not meant to be a comprehensive list, these five “DO’S” combined with Janis’ nine “DON’T’S” will put parents on a better path, one where the chances of their child getting the most out of their youth sports experiences becomes a reality.

Leave a comment