By Jan Udlock
Team sports teach discipline, appropriate behavior in winning and losing, importance of physical exercise, self-confidence and more. Parents play an important role in the learning curve, because children take cues from their parents on what is and is not appropriate behavior.
Every parent wants her child to do well and shine in sports. In the process of support and excitement, are you encouraging your child or are you being a pain on the field? Here are some guidelines to help you be the best sports parent you can.
At the game
The parents’ job is to provide emotional support for their child and leave coaching to the coach.“Respect the coach’s expertise, and if they are volunteer coaches with little coaching experience, respect the time and effort they are devoting,” said Dr. Jim Taylor, sport psychologist and author of Positive Pushing: How to Raise a Successful and Happy Child.
Cheer for all the children on the team, regardless of how they do. Before the game, ask your child if he would prefer loud or soft cheering. Some children would prefer no cheering because it causes undue pressure. On other hand, if you have a child who wants loud banter, have a nickname for your child. He will hear the pet name among the screaming fans.
Let your children fail
Watching your child strike out or repeatedly miss a basket is painful for a parent. However, allowing children to fail is a part of the maturing process. Children are learning skills as well as character traits when they achieve and when they are disappointed.
A poor call
After a game, if your child brings up the topic of a bad call from the referee, talk with her about it. However, do not let her have a victim mentality, saying the team lost because of the ref’s poor calls.
“Referees are human and are bound to make a legitimate mistake or two during any game,” said Joe Cummings, CEO and Executive Director of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. “However there also is the matter of a ‘perceived mistake,’ where the difference in viewing the angle can make all the difference.”
In the long run, criticizing the umpire’s inconsistent calls does not help anyone.
Most sports organizations have conduct rules for parents and other adults. Respect these. Coaches normally review them with the parents before formal games begin. Referees are entitled to throw a parent out of the game for inappropriate behavior or ban him from the sports park for the rest of the game. If a parent does not stop the behavior, her child’s team will automatically forfeit the game. Taylor recommends the coach or another parent not talk down to the offending parent but focus on the offending behavior and explain how it hurts the child.
If you as a parent are getting a little too involved in your child’s sport, slow down a bit by sitting farther down the field away from the action.
“Winning is not the point because few children will rise very far up the competitive ladder,” Dr. Taylor said. Team sports can be fun for the entire family and can give a child a rewarding experience. “The goal of sports is to instill a love of sport, exercise, physical activity, have fun, develop good motor skills and essential life skills,” Dr. Taylor said.
Now, go out and play ball!