9 Questions Every Youth Sports Parent Should Answer
With another new school year quickly approaching and season openers around the corner, you may already have questions about what fall youth sports will hold for you and your child. Will the coach see my child’s potential? Will my child get enough playing time or get to play the position he wants? Of course, any caring parent wants to see their athlete succeed, but can you do it in the right way?
Those types of questions are normal for youth sports parents, but I’d like to propose that there are other, perhaps more important, questions that you should seek answers for as you embark on another season. Should you keep these in mind, you'll find yourself much happier as the season progresses -- and your coach and child will thank you too! Here are my suggestions:
Is my child playing for me or for himself?
If you don’t know the answer to that question, be sure to ask your child for her honest opinion.
What is the best way for me to help my child improve their skills this season?
Does your child want to play outside of practice? Do they want you to provide a private coach? Or, maybe consider that the best way for you to help is to just be a positive supporter.
What is one way that I can support the team?
You don’t have to volunteer for everything, but find one thing you can do to help. Whether that's helping as an assistant coach, carpooling to games, or helping with fundraisers, remember this: many hands make light work.
Do I understand the coach’s playing strategy?
If the coach doesn’t explain this to the parents, then ask. You need to know what to expect, that way you can temper expectations early on, if need be. Does he promise to play everyone? Is he focused on playing the starters most of the time? You may not like what the coach has to say, but at least you will know what lies ahead.
How do I want my child to see me in the stands?
Irate and yelling? Nitpick and critical? Or would they appreciate seeing somebody engaged and supportive of everybody?
What do I want the coach to think when he sees me coming?
"Oh, great, I wonder what I did wrong now? Is she going to chew me out for not playing her boy as much as she wanted? Or I wish every parent on this time were as supportive as this one!
What will I do when my child feels defeated?
Will you be prepared to listen and ask the right questions? To support unconditionally? To let her work through it without always trying to fix things?
Am I willing to let the coach do his job?
Without interfering and giving advice when it’s not requested?
What will be the big takeaway from this season?
This last question may not be answered until the season is over, but be on the lookout. As you go from game to game, try to unearth at least one very important lesson that you and your child can gain from the experience. When the season is over, ask your child how they feel and listen to them! A young athlete's perspective is incredibly valuable, especially to a parent in the stands.
If you follow these guiding questions, and maybe even find some answers along the way, then your youth sports experience this fall will be better than ever. Even cooler, not only will you enjoy your time cheering from the sidelines, but your coach and athlete will appreciate the support from afar as well!