If it were up to me, I wouldn’t want it to be any other season than spring, (and that’s coming from a hockey coach). We’ve just come out unscathed from the long winter hibernation and the kids are itching to get outside and play. It’s an excellent time to be a parent of a kid who plays a sport or several sports, as excitement is at a yearly high with new hopes for the upcoming season with their friends. The spring is also a superior opportunity to remind yourself of how to be an encouraging parent of a child who plays a sport.
If you know anything about me, you know that I’ll have a slanted view on the subject. Being a coach myself, I get first-hand experience of being in the crossfire between coaches, parents, fans, and other kids. During my time as a coach, I’ve learned a couple valuable tips that I’d like to share. Before every game or practice this summer of your kids’ teams, try and remind yourself of these four things:
Celebrate effort and sportsmanship above everything else. I stress effort to my players as the most important skill they can poses. When you are having conversations with your child about how practices and games went, focus on the effort, not results. Not all teams are created equally, and your child is just one piece of the winning puzzle. They won’t win every game, and not every practice will be as beneficial to them as it is their teammate. Reiterate with them that as long as they are giving max effort, then that is all that is expected.
Let the coach be the coach. You may not know this, but as your child moves up in age groups, more effort and qualifications are needed to be the coach of the team. Trust that the organization your child is a part of has put a qualified individual in place to lead your child’s team. Let them be the voice to the opposing team’s coach(s) and players, (and fans for that matter). Don’t coach from the stands, dugout, bench, etc. If you have a problem with the way the coach is instructing your child, approach them before or after a practice (never before or after a game) for a discussion.
We are all human, and we all will make mistakes. This is especially true for those officiating the sport, but not exclusively. Be supportive of those that are mostly volunteering their time to keep things organized and played to the rules of the game. Never yell at the official, under any circumstances (for more on this, re-read the previous tip.)
Be a positive example for everyone around you. How much fun your child has playing sports can be a direct result of how much fun you’re having watching them play. Be supportive of the coach, fellow fans, other teams, and other players. Remember also to root for the whole team, not just your child. No matter how great they may be, they are still only a small part of the team.
Like I said before, not every team that I’ve coached has been successful when it comes to wins and losses. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, it’s part of the beauty of playing. I want to remind you as a parent though, that your child’s success or lack of success in sports is not indicative of your parenting. Having an athlete that is coachable, respectful, a great teammate, mentally tough, resilient and gives max effort IS a direct reflection of your parenting. I encourage you to do your part this summer in ensuring your child has a fun season in their sport.