A few years ago, we interviewed local coaches about a problem we called “parental interference.” That’s when parents cross the line of supporting their athlete and actually interfere. It’s an annual and ongoing problem for coaches-and the young athletes, too.
With the help of the coaches we interviewed, we developed a list of suggestions for good sports parenting. With the start of a new school year and the athletic programs that come with it, we pass on the highlights from that list. Take them to heart.
— Attend your child’s games whenever possible. Be positive about your child’s involvement in the game, even if it’s limited.
— Encourage your player to have a good attitude and have fun.
— Praise the play of your child, but also the play of teammates.
— Try to see circumstances through the coach’s eyes, too, not just the child’s eyes. If you feel you need to talk to the coach about team issues, go to learn and not to educate. And be discreet.
— Realize that being part of a team has positive benefits, regardless of playing time or performance-and remind your child of that.
— Discount negative “coffee shop talk” that undermines a coach or team; emphasize the positives.
— Thank coaches for the time they invest in your child.
— Don’t shout critical comments from the stands about the coach, your child’s play, or the play of teammates.
— Give yourself time to cool off and gain perspective before talking to a coach; don’t voice concerns immediately after a game.
— Don’t instruct your child about athletic techniques in a way that conflicts or interferes with the coach’s instruction.
— Avoid putting too much pressure on your child to perform.
— Don’t “gang up” with other parents who happen to share similar concerns about a coach’s approach.
— Don’t go over the head of the coach to voice your complaints, especially if you haven’t spoken first to the coach.
— Don’t try to fulfill or relive your athletic aspirations through the participation of your child.
— Don’t elevate the role of sports in your child’s life above the child’s education and character development.- DR