This June, CoachUp surveyed over 250 youth sports coaches from around the country in order to better understand this major subculture. As we've covered on our blog before, many people, including Tom Brady, believe that youth sports have gotten too intense and that overbearing parents are to blame -- and, ultimately, our survey findings only further serve that conclusion. The win-at-all-costs pattern has created an unmanageable number of sports parents with an inflated sense of entitlement. Dr. Amy Kaltzell, a Boston University sports psychology professor, former Olympic rower, youth coach and co-author of the sports parenting book, Whose Game Is It, Anyway? weighs in on the subject,
The pressure on young athletes to play well has never been greater and parents often unwittingly make choices that value winning over the child’s well-being. Youth sports can be a wonderful way to teach life’s lessons, strengthen the habit of physical activity and help children develop into confident, well-rounded adults but parents can undermine these lessons by putting too much pressure on participation and performance or by behaving poorly (e.g. coaching, criticizing, yelling) from the sidelines.
These pressures imposed on children by their parents range from being forced into multiple sports per season at a young age to having their parents yell at a referee during a game. These kind of behaviors could turn a child off from a sport altogether, with the stresses outweighing the fun. As Jordan Fliegel, our President and Founder, puts it, the best way to teach kids how to love sports is to make it easy,
“Youth sports are a great way to teach kids confidence, teamwork, sportsmanship and the value of trying your best. As adults, parents, and coaches, we can help young athletes learn to love sports in a positive, encouraging environment to prepare them to be the best they can be on the field and in life.”
Check out our survey findings in the infographic below: CoachUp Survey: Are You A Bad Or Good Sports Parent? Whether your child is a standout athlete in their peer group or not, chances are, your child is not going to make it to the pros -- and that's okay. Sports parents should be measuring the success of a child's performance based on the intangibles of teamwork, leadership, confidence, and clear communication rather than trophies. If your child seems to be mentally or physically struggling with a sport, you need to be asking yourself and your child if continuing to play that sport yields any benefits for them. If the answer is no, consider signing them up for a different sport or extracurricular. If the answer is yes, consider moving them to a different team or giving them some extra attention with one-on-one sports training. Remember, as a sports parent, you must be responsible for laying down the foundation for your athlete's love for a sport. Teach them to love playing more than winning, and be sure to respect the coaches and officials that take time out of their busy lives to help grow youth sports.