5 Tips on How to Be an Outstanding Youth Sports Parent
True story: Parent walks up to his child’s soccer coach and says, “Why did you play my kid for five minutes?” Coach responds, “Because I couldn’t get him off the field any faster.”
Christians should always display excellent sportsmanship. Here are five tips on how to be an outstanding youth sports parent:
1. You are not the coach—act accordingly.
Avoid sideline coaching at all times. Coaches do not need your help, regardless of how much you may think they do. I saw one parent do so much coaching from the sideline over the course of several seasons that one day the child actually told her dad to shut up—and nobody blamed her for doing it.
Referees and umpires don’t need your help either. Set the example by being respectful and courteous at all times.
Note: If you are a parent coach, don’t favor your kid. It’s poor form, and everyone notices.
2. Let your child do the talking.
If your child has a question for the coach, let him or her ask it. Try to refrain from inquiring with the coach regarding how your child is doing. Do not even think about asking about your child’s playing time.
Coaches will avoid you like the plague if they think you are going to ask them about playing time. If you want to know how your child is doing, his or her playing time will usually tell you.
3. Don't be a fifth-quarter quarterback.
After a game, don’t analyze your child’s quality of play in the car on the way home unless the child asks your opinion—and even then, proceed with extreme caution. If your child does ask, he or she usually wants to be affirmed.
Very few kids can handle parental criticism well, so avoid giving it unless absolutely necessary. Keep any comments as positive as possible. More often than not, you’re not an expert at the sport anyway.
4. Every parent needs to be a team parent.
It’s not only your child who has to learn how to be a team player—all parents need to learn how to be team parents, and that doesn’t just mean the moms and dads who help manage the team.
When your child has to learn how to sit the bench, you can learn how to support him or her on the bench. Remember, when your child is playing, someone else is sitting the bench. People who can’t sit the bench will have difficulty in life when things don’t go their way. Life is not fair, and this is a good time and way for children to learn that. They may even deserve to be on the bench. If they want it badly enough, they will work hard and find a way to get themselves off of it!
A sports team does not exist for the benefit of one particular child and his or her advancement. Good sportsmanship includes cheering for every player on the team and being happy for their success, even when things aren’t going well for your child—for whatever reason.
5. Learn the five words every youth sports parent should know.
It is easy to forget that sports are supposed to be fun, and people should play for the love of the game. Very few children will ever play at the college level, let alone become professional athletes.
Enjoy the ride and all the wonderful lessons to be learned from sports. And the next time your child asks you how he or she did, respond with these five words: “I love watching you play!”
And you too will be an outstanding youth sports parent.
Le Ann Trees is managing editor of Beautiful Christian Life.
This article has been revised from the original version published on April 3, 2018.
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