motivating your youth sports athlete

10 Things Sports Parents Need to Know to Help Their Child

When I signed my first child up for gymnastics, and then later for softball, I entered a whole new world. Youth sports is its own unique culture, and I certainly had no idea what I was getting into. I figured it couldn’t be very hard to stand on the sidelines or sit in the bleachers cheering for your kid. But I soon learned that being your child’s cheerleader is not the hard part. It’s the stuff that surrounds the game that gets sticky. If you are new sports parent I want to warn you of some situations that await you in the bleachers.

What should I know before signing my child up for youth sports?

1. You will see bad parenting

I’m not just talking about parents who behave badly, because we all do that now and again. I’m talking about parents who are constantly pushy, obnoxious, impatient, selfish, and blind to how their bad behavior hurts their child. The best way for you to handle those type of parents is to steer clear of them. Don’t let their negativity pull you down.

2. It could get expensive

Even if your child plays legion ball or little league, there are still fees and equipment. In high school, there will be warm-up tops, matching shoes, and team shirts. If you decide to do travel ball, things can get really expensive. Every lesson, camp, and clinic that your child attends will help their game, but cost you something. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each opportunity to decide if it is truly necessary for your athlete.

3. Your kid will eventually have a coach he doesn’t like

Maybe your child has a coach who doesn’t know what she is doing; can’t relate to kids; only cares about winning; doesn’t care at all about winning; or maybe she’s coaching just to see her kid be the star. Use it as an opportunity to teach your child how to get along with difficult people.

4. You will see some bad officiating

Officials are human. They may miss calls, seem biased, appear ignorant of certain rules, or come across as thin-skinned. When this happens, it’s okay to moan and groan a bit, but don’t embarrass your child or yourself.

5. Your kid will not always be the star—or may not be a star at all

Parents are biased about their kids’ abilities and think they should always be on the court or field. “How can the coach not see that my little Susie is the best shortstop on the team?” Take off the rose-colored glasses, and realize that maybe your child is not the phenom you think she is. She should, however, always be a star to you!

6. Your child will not always want your help

Trying to coach your kid when he doesn’t want your help will hurt your relationship. I know you are trying to help, and maybe your advice is good, but if he doesn’t want it, he will not hear a word you say. Sometimes it’s better for the relationship with your child to let someone else do the coaching.

7. You will be stretched as a parent

Being a sports parent will test your character as much as sports will test your child’s. You’ll seethe, cry, bang your head against a wall, feel like punching a few people, and say things you regret. However, if you can remember to accept the challenge and learn from your mistakes, you will also grow up in the process.

8. You will have fun watching your child succeed

There are few joys greater to a parent than watching your child win an award, exhibit shining character, be the star, overcome adversity, or be an inspiration to those around him.  You will laugh, cry, and even go a little berserk at times. Always remember that true success is not just measured in statistics, but in the person your child becomes as they face challenges.

9. Your child could get injured

He definitely will if he plays long enough. Whether it’s a tweaked ankle, a cut, or a broken arm, it’s never easy to watch an injury happen. Try to remember that they will recover, and they will want to play again. Always be certain of a full recovery though, and keep them from rushing back to the field.

10. Youth sports may get political

Unfortunately, politics in youth sports is just as prevalent as it is messy. There will be drama. The best way for you to deal with it is to stay out of it!

If you are new a new sports parent, these 10 “warnings” are not meant to scare you off—they are merely a reminder that youth sports comes with the good and the bad. It’s up to you to show your child how to deal with both.


sports parent with child

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