With the start of school comes the start of middle and high school athletics. Our annual “Extra Point!” fall sports preview, focuses attention on the athletes and coaches at the six high schools and college in our distribution area.
One other population group is critical to a positive outcome of high school sports: parents of athletes. The coaches we’ve worked with through the years welcome the positive, helpful involvement and support of parents. Unfortunately, a small number of parents are too involved in the athletic experiences of their children and push the boundaries of appropriate behavior.
Involvement becomes interference.
Several years ago we interviewed area coaches on this issue. From their input we created a list of “Do’s & Don’ts” regarding parent involvement. We’ve touched on this topic frequently over the years, but feel the tips are still beneficial because each new school year brings new parents to the stage, and the advice of coaches is still relevant.
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n Attend your child’s games whenever possible.
n Be positive about your child’s involvement in the game, even if it’s limited.
n Encourage your player to have a good attitude and have fun.
n Praise the play of your child, but also the play of teammates.
n Encourage your athlete to work on his or her skills during the off-season.
n Join the school’s booster club or find tangible ways to support the team.
n Introduce yourself to the coach prior to or during the season.
n Let the coaches know if they can do something to help meet the needs of your child.
n Try to see circumstances through the coach’s eyes, not just the child’s eyes.
n If you feel you need to talk to the coach about team issues, go to learn and not to educate.
n Be discreet when you meet with the coach.
n Realize that being part of a team has positive benefits, regardless of playing time or performance—and remind your child of that, too.
n Discount negative “coffee shop talk” that undermines a coach or team; emphasize the positives.
n Thank coaches for the time they invest in your child.
n Don’t shout critical comments from the stands about the coach, your child’s play or the play of teammates.
n Don’t criticize your child’s coach or teammates in front of your child.
n Don’t voice your concerns to a coach immediately after a game; give yourself time to cool off and gain perspective.
n Don’t coach from the stands.
n Don’t instruct your child about athletic techniques in a way that conflicts or interferes with the coach’s instruction or philosophy.
n Don’t put pressure your child to perform to your expectations.
n Don’t “gang up” with other parents who happen to share similar concerns about a coach’s approach.
n Don’t go over the head of the coach to voice your complaints, especially if you haven’t spoken first to the coach.
n Don’t try to fulfill or relive your athletic aspirations through the participation of your child.
n Don’t elevate the role of sports in your child’s life above the child’s education and character development.
—Don Ratzlaff, editor