This is a contributed post from Mehr Lee of Raise Her Wild
Got a minute?
I watched you yelling at my kid. I watched the way he rolled his head back and slumped his shoulders. I watched him drag his ass back to the bench.
And I watched him sit out… for a long while. He was pissed. You were pissed.
And me? Yeah… Pissed.
I’ve watched this happen for years, and I’ve got something to say to you:
Thank you for calling out his mistakes and holding him accountable.
Thank you for teaching him that no matter how talented an athlete he may be, he’s got to earn his place by working hard.
Thank you for not giving up on him, even when he’s given up on himself.
Thank you for Loving Him Tough.
It’s Tough to Be a Fan and a Parent
It’s not easy to watch from the stands. To sit back and witness your child being taught, reprimanded, inspired, and molded by another person.
I always thought that was my job. But not in this arena.
This is your house. And I completely respect and admire the way you’ve run it.
It feels like just yesterday that you took this swarm of four-foot-nothing, round-cheeked, wide-eyed, little boys under your wing.
The first season we handed them over to you, they spent more time eyeing their parents in the stands than focusing on the court.
They were unsure of the game, unsure of themselves, unsure of you.
But each week, you showed up with gusto. Broad smile, bellowing praise, and gentle instruction. With that, you earned their trust–and mine.
Related: These Are the Mistakes I Made That Caused My Daughter to Quit Sports
Youth Sports can transform kids in the best possible ways
Today, we see a group of almost-men that tower over their moms, and a handful, over their dads (even if only by a hair of their unruly mops).
Today we see a Team. A Brotherhood. A Family. All come together because of you.
If we catch their eye today, it’s only for a brief moment. They are focused on the court, on each other, and on you, their Coach.
It takes a special kind of someone to take a group of young kids and turn them into brothers.
To teach them to trust, respect, and love the game as well as each other. It takes some thick skin to endure the criticism of board members, parents, other coaches, and even kids.
It takes serious dedication to work your 9-5 job, to honor family time, to be present for social engagements while scheduling, practicing, and giving your all every time these kids take the floor.
I’ve watched you get heated with refs, with other coaches, with the kids… but I know it’s only because your passion for the game and for your boys drives you hard. And that passion drives them harder.
Related: My Days as a Sports Parent Are Exhausting But Worth It
Parents Need to Look at Sports from the Coaches Perspective
Over the years, they’ve come to understand what you expect from them. And when those expectations aren’t met, they’ve had to ride the pine.
Over the years, they’ve come to understand what to expect of themselves. And when they rise to the occasion, they reap the glory on the court.
Yet no matter the outcome, they’ve come to understand that you stand for each and every one of them.
They are better teammates, better athletes, better kids, because of your unwavering support.
Thank you for battling it out.
Thank you for the fight. Thank you for fighting them because I know you have always fought FOR them.
Much Love & Respect, Coach!
The Mom of an Athlete
Tips to being a good sports parent
We have all seen how parents can sometimes ruin sporting events for our kids. Too much coaching from the stands, yelling at referees, and even fights breaking out between parents of players on opposing teams is hurting the learning experience for our young athletes.
Being a good sports parent means supporting your child’s athletic endeavors in a positive and constructive way (We love this post from Abby Wambach encouraging parents to suck on a lollipop during a game in order to refrain from yelling.) Here are some tips to help you be a good sports parent:
- Model respect: Respect the boundaries set by coaches and officials, and avoid interfering with their decisions. Let your child’s coach handle the coaching and leave the playing to the players. Remember that bad calls are part of the game because humans make mistakes. Also remember that most of the time referees, even young ones, have spent countless hours in training and might know more than you do as a spectator.
- Encourage, encourage, encourage: Encourage your child to participate in sports and to enjoy the experience. Don’t pressure them to win at all costs, get a college scholarship, or become a professional athlete. Remember that the goal of sports is to grow as a person.
- Emphasize resilience: Teach your child that effort, hard work, and overcoming adversity are more important than winning or losing. Encourage them to focus on growing as a person instead of only on wins or losses.
- Be the change. Show your child how to be a good spectator. Thank the refs and coaches after the game. Never yell at the opposing side.
- Don’t give a play-by-play post-game report: After a tough game, the last thing a player wants is to be critiqued by their loved ones. It’s okay to acknowledge a tough loss, but avoid criticizing or belittling your play for effort. Remember, you weren’t out there and you don’t have the full picture from the stands.
- Provide support: Provide emotional support to your child, both on and off the field. Encourage them to eat right, get enough sleep, and take care of themselves physically and mentally.
- Encourage balance: Encourage your child to maintain a balance between sports and other aspects of their life, such as academics, social activities, and family time. The athletes with the most longevity are the ones who have additional interests to fall back on when they have a bad day.
Remember that being a good sports parent is about supporting your child’s development as an athlete and as a person.
Looking for a little inspiration? We love this book: Mental Toughness For Young Athletes: Eight Proven 5-Minute Mindset Exercises For Kids And Teens Who Play Competitive Sports. It’s a great tool to help your athletes shut out the noise and focus on what they want to achieve out of their sport.
Editor’s Note: Portions of this post originally appeared on the author’s Facebook page.
Parenting teens and tweens is hard, but you don’t have to do it alone. Here are some other articles parents found helpful:
These Are the Mistakes I Made That Caused My Daughter to Quit Sports
My Days as a Sports Parent Are Exhausting But Worth It
It’s Hard to Imagine What Your Life Will Look Like After Youth Sports Ends
Why Our Family Is Okay With Our Teen’s Crazy Sports Schedule
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