As a parent, you have a very important responsibility during a sport season. Your job revolves around supporting your child and making sure they draw from the sports experience the lessons that will help him or her to become a successful, contributing adult. And while this is not easy given the seductive nature of the "winning at all costs" and, "my kid is the best" model, it can make all the difference in your child's life.
Look for the silver lining in everything that happens on the field or in pratice. Players develop at different rates and a parent applying negative "win at all cost" pressure will hinder your child. We encourage you to learn the game and support the program and those that are dedicating their time, energy and knowledge for your child. Have Fun!
Please remember that this is all about the kids' experience.
Research is clear that when parents and teachers work together a child tends to do better in school. There is no reason to think that it is any different in youth sports. The following are some guidelines for how parents can contribute to a Coach/Parent Partnership that can help the athlete have the best possible experience.
- Recognize the Commitment the Coach Has Made: For whatever reason, you have chosen not to help coach the team. The coach has made a commitment that involves many, many hours of preparation beyond the hours spent at practices and games. Recognize their commitment and the fact that they are not doing it because of the pay! Try to remember this whenever something goes awry during the season.
- Make Early, Positive Contact with the Coach: As soon as you know who your child’s coach is going to be, contact him to introduce yourself and let him know you want to help your child have the best experience possible this season. To the extent that you can do so, ask if there is any way you can help. By getting to know the coach early and establishing a positive relationship, it will be much easier to talk with him later if a problem arises.
- Fill the Coach’s Emotional Tank: When the coach is doing something you like, let him know about it. Coaching is a difficult job and most coaches only hear from parents when they want to complain about something. This will help fill the coach’s emotional tank and contribute to his doing a better job. It also makes it easier to raise problems later when you have shown support for the good things he is doing. And just about every coach does a lot of things well. Take the time to look for them.
- Don't Put the Player in the Middle: Imagine a situation around the dinner table, in which a child's parents complain in front of her about how poorly her math teacher is teaching fractions. How would this impact this student’s motivation to work hard to learn fractions? How would it affect her love of mathematics? While this may seem farfetched, when we move away from school to youth sports, it is all too common for parents to share their disapproval of a coach with their children. This puts a young athlete in a bind. Divided loyalties do not make it easy for a child to do her best. Conversely, when parents support a coach, it is that much easier for the child to put a wholehearted effort into learning to play well. If you think your child"s coach is not handling a situation well, do not tell that to the player. Rather, seek a meeting with the coach in which you can talk with him about it.
- Don't Give Instructions During a Game or Practice: You are not one of the coaches, so do not give your child instructions about how to play. It can be very confusing for a child to hear someone other than the coach giving instructions during a game.
- Fill Your Child"s Emotional Tank: Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to be there for your child. Competitive sports are stressful to players and the last thing they need is a critic at home. Be a cheerleader for your child. Focus on the positive things he is doing and leave the correcting of mistakes to the coach. Let him know you support him without reservation regardless of how well he plays.
- Fill the Emotional Tanks of the Entire Team: Cheer for all of the players on the team. Tell each of them when you see them doing something well.
- Encourage Other Parents to Honor the Game: Don’t show disrespect for the other team or the officials. But more than that, encourage other parents to also Honor the Game. If a parent of a player on your team begins to berate the official, gently say to them, "Hey, that’s not Honoring the Game. That’s not the way we do things here."
Guidelines for Honoring the Game
Honoring the Game involves respect for the Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates and one's Self. You don't bend the rules to win. You understand that a worthy opponent is a gift that forces you to play to your highest potential. You show respect for officials even when you disagree. You refuse to do anything that embarrasses your team. You live up to your own standards even if others don't. Here are ways that parents can create a positive youth sports culture so that children will have fun and learn positive character traits to last a lifetime.
Before the Game:
- Make a commitment to Honor the Game in action and language no matter what others may do.
- Tell your child before each game that you are proud of him or her regardless of how well he or she plays.
During the Game:
- Fill your child's "Emotional Tank" through praise and positive recognition so they can play their very best.
- Don't give instructions to your child during the game. Let the coach correct player mistakes.
- Cheer good plays by both teams (this is advanced behavior!)
- Mention good calls by the official to other parents.
- If an official makes a "bad" call against your team? Honor the Game—BE SILENT!
- If another parent on your team yells at an official? Gently remind him or her to Honor the Game.
- Don't do anything in the heat of the moment that you will regret after the game. Ask yourself, "Will this embarrass my child or the team?"
- Remember to have fun! Enjoy the game.
After the Game:
- Thank the officials for doing a difficult job for little or no pay.
- Thank the coaches for their commitment and effort.
- Don't give advice. Instead ask your child what he or she thought about the game and then LISTEN. Listening fills Emotional Tanks.
- Tell your child again that you are proud of him or her, whether the team won or lost.
Note: This information and guidelines are adapted from Positive Coaching: Building Character and Self-Esteem Through Sports by Jim Thompson, the founder and leader of the Positive Coaching Alliance. (source - http://www.positivecoach.org/subcontent.aspx?SecID=208)