What You Don’t Need to Know To be a Great Sports Parent

dad and son walkingAthletes do not always beget athletes. I’ve known some rather un-athletic parents whose kids are skilled competitors.

Perhaps you never played sports, or if you did, you eventually realized that you were not athletically gifted. Now, your kids are starting to play and you’re keeping your fingers crossed that they will have better success than you did.

If you are questioning your ability to help your child play sports when you had minimal athletic success or did not play at all, I’m here to put your mind at ease. Here’s what you don’t need to know to be a great sports parent:

The rules of the game. It might help to read up on them just so you aren’t too clueless, but it’s okay if your kid knows more than you do about the sport.

How to help your child improve. That’s what coaches and mentors are for.

Someone who can get your child on an elite team. Getting on a traveling, or “elite” team, as they are often called, can be as tough as getting into an Ivy League University. It’s really okay if you don’t have the connections to get your child on one of those teams.  If your child is a gifted athlete, they can still get noticed. The important thing is that they are playing and getting good coaching.

How to suck up to the coach. There’s a lot of schmoozing that goes on in youth sports. Parents may buddy up to the coach, hoping to be a voice of influence in his ear, or thinking that their friendship with the coach may influence the child's playing time. As a coach’s wife, let me tell you that it doesn’t work. A coach separates the friendships off the field from the activity on the field. Hopefully, the coach will do what’s best for the kids, not for the parents.

How you’re going to afford thousands of dollars each year to support your child’s sports activities. Youth sports doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg; there are ways to be frugal, there are ways to find alternative opportunities, and there are ways to simply say no.

How you’re going to be at every single event. Before you start guilting yourself about the fact that there is simply no way you can be at every single game, let me assure you that 100% attendance is not required for 100% support. Even the most ardent sports parents cannot be at every game. As long as you get there as often as you can, and as long as your child knows you are a positive supporter, you will be forgiven for not being at every competition.

As the parent of a child who loves to play sports, it simply doesn’t matter if you are a klutz or clueless when it comes to athletics. All you need to know is how to positively support and love your child as they participate in something they love.

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