I want you to try something at your kid’s next game. I want you to shut up.
Seriously. Don’t cheer. Don’t yell. Don’t shout.
Just sit in conscious silence. Sit with your mouth shut but your eyes and ears open. You will be amazed by the experience.
What Do You Hear?
Pay attention to what you hear. Are other sports parents shouting at their kids? If so, what are some things they’re yelling?
Are their comments positive? Are they using words of encouragement? Or are they critical of their young athlete’s performance?
Are the comments respectful of the opponents as well and the umpires or referees?
Start A Comment Clock
On average, how much time passes between each comment coming from other parents? (Faster paced games like ice hockey and lacrosse will have shorter times between comments than a game with more downtime, like baseball.)
It’s amazing how nice & peaceful the sounds of youth sports would be if over-zealous parents would just shut up. CLICK TO TWEET THAT
Keep Score and Share The Results.
Track the positive comments vs. the negative ones. Then come back here and post the final tally in the comments. It will be interesting to see a decent assortment of results.
Do Parent Comments Help?
This is a big one. Pay attention to the results parents get from shouting instructions. Do their kids even acknowledge them? If so, do they follow their advice? If so, are they have success because of it? My observation is that 97% of the parents who shout instructions to their kids during the game are 100% clueless. Have you noticed that, too?
The ones who constantly shout commands do it because they can’t stand not having control of what their kid does. Heaven forbid their kid actually learns something as a result of making a mistake on his own.
Is It Easy For You To Park It and Shut It?
When you conduct this little social experiment, pay attention to your urges and intentions. Is it easy for you to park it in your chair and shut your mouth? Do you really have to fight yourself to keep quiet throughout the game?
Make Notes of What You Want To Say
When you have the urge to shout something to your child, what is it? Make a note of what you want to say each time you fight the urge. If it’s important, it will be just as relevant after the game.
After the game, review your notes. Are they positive and encouraging or negative and critical? How would your positive vs. negative score compare to the other parents at the game?
By sitting in conscious silence you’ll become ultra-aware of all the shouting, both positive and negative, from other sports parents. (One side effect of your new found awareness is a constant smirk on your face.) Hopefully this social experiment will help you sit down, shut up and enjoy your kid’s future games more than ever before.
Don’t forget to come back and share your tally of positive vs. negative parent comments.
Thanks for reading,
Kevin Duy is a Sports Dad of three boys and writes on sports parenting.