Every time you take your children to practice or a game, they take with them some very important pieces of equipment that will help they play the game. I think it’s just as important for parents to bring their own emotional tools to the game.
Here are 8 tools that every sports parent must have in their “survival kit”. This “kit” must go with you to every game, every tournament and every practice you attend.
Tool #1: Flexibility
How do you react when your child doesn’t get as much playing time as you’d like? Or when he/she doesn’t get to play the position you think he/she should play? Or when the coach calls a different offense than you would like to see? If you cannot bring flexibility to the game, you will stress yourself and everyone around you who hears your objections.
Tool #2: Sense of Humor
Find the fun and joy in your child’s game instead of worrying about how many minutes they are on the court, how many rebounds they have or how bad the ref’s calls are. It will help you actually enjoy things much more.
Tool #3: Gratitude
Take time to thank the people who make it happen: the officials, the coaches and the volunteers.
Tool #4: Self-Control
This includes a variety of things: biting your tongue when you want to say something negative to your child or the coach, refusing to compare your child to another player with the intent to motivate, or not yelling nasty things to the official.
Tool #5: Reality Check
Be realistic about your child’s abilities. It’s hard because every parent is biased, and if you struggle with it, do some research: talk to coaches and/or trainers to get their thoughts on your child’s potential.
Tool #6: Thick Skin
If you cannot turn a deaf ear to the ignorant and senseless remarks you hear at games, then you better develop a thicker skin -- one that is not overly sensitive to the rudeness of others. Otherwise you might find yourself saying things you’ll regret.
Tool #7: Tamed Tongue
Please do not coach your child from the bleachers. It’s distracting to him/her, undermines the coach, and puts pressure on your child to perform up to your standards.
Tool #8: Clear Focus
Focus on the end game: who do you want your child to be after he/she is done playing sports? Keep this long-term goal in mind, and it will give you a clear focus for today’s game.
If you are to successfully navigate the minefield of youth sports with all its drama and challenges, you cannot do it haphazardly. Sports parents must be strategic with these 8 tools if they want their young athletes to have a positive experience.