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Ten Tips for Sports Parents

Rather than concern with scoreboard wins and losses, playing time and position, PCA hopes that you, as a sports parent, keep your eye on the Big Picture – the life lessons in teamwork, resilience, overcoming adversity, communication skills, etc., that sports can uniquely teach, and that you can uniquely help your children process toward becoming fulfilled, productive contributors to our society.

Here are 10 tips that can help you and your children.

1. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of youth sports – we all want our children to succeed. But before your child’s season starts and emotions run high, write down your goals for your child in sports. Keep this list close by and refer back to it throughout the season to help maintain your focus on the bigger picture.

2. Before a game, help your child prepare with the right rest, good nutrition/hydration and encouragement. 3. During a game: cheer positively for all the players on both teams; refrain from negative commentary on players, officials or fans of the opposing team; and do not instruct from the stands or sidelines. You can try “no-verbs cheering” or otherwise limit yourself to shouts of encouragement. Either way, let coaches coach. Many collegiate coaches watch the sideline behavior of a prospective recruit’s parents to help determine whether or not to recruit that athlete.

4. Sometimes, parents or other spectators behave in a way that feels out of place or just too intense for the situation – berating officials or screaming at their children or other players. You may be unsure how to respond. One key is to consistently model the appropriate behavior. Then, if you want to help an over-exuberant spectator, sometimes all it takes is a glance or a gesture, such as lowering your palms to indicate “calm down.” You might choose to distract them with conversation about another aspect of the game, or if you feel comfortable, you can remind them about the role of parents in upholding a positive sports culture.

5. After the game, resist the temptation to critique during the car ride home. Wait for your child to start conversation. If you are concerned with your child’s emotional state after a tough loss, poor performance or other adversity, ask if he or she wants to talk. If the answer is “no,” respect that.