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Parenting the Sidelines: The Do's and Don'ts

At Little League Baseball game: “Is that your mom yelling in the stands? Yeah, she thinks I’m going pro next year.” -Anonymous.

Most parents want the best for their kids.

Whether it’s sports or at school, we want our kids to succeed. And I want to preface this newsletter with the fact that I don’t have kids myself, so I am writing from a third-party perspective.

But parents, we have to be better.

“The average child today spends less than three years playing a sport, quitting by age 11, most often because the sport just isn’t fun anymore. Their parents are under pressure, too, with some sports costing thousands of dollars a year and travel expenses taking up the largest chunk.” -Aspen Play Project.


Last weekend, I coached my 10U club team in a tournament.

It was a learning weekend for us, as we went 0-4 and are struggling to adjust to the speed and level of competition of club basketball compared to recreation basketball.

The quote above from the Aspen Play Project gave me a new perspective. Kids are under too much pressure at a young age “to perform” when youth sports should be “SOLELY” about development until at least middle school, in my opinion.

Games get out of hand when youth sports become about winning, with parents yelling at their kids to perform better.

A New Perspective

I’ll share a fun story from our podcast episode last year with VJ Stanley. He gave the example of what if someone came into our office daily (parents and coaches) and began yelling at us about how to do spreadsheets. No, don’t input it in F5; input it in F6!

It would be pretty annoying, wouldn’t it?

Now you don’t want to go to your kid's games and be quiet because secretly, even if they are embarrassed, they crave support.

So the two things you can do at games are ENCOURAGE and REMIND.

Encouragement is simple; I believe you know how to do that and remember this phrase: “What gets celebrated, gets repeated.”

Now reminders are great because, let’s take basketball, for example. It’s okay for us to REMIND our players to keep their hands up on defense or to use the backboard when driving for a layup.

But what is not acceptable is to yell AFTER a mistake. For example, a player turns the ball over, and a parent yells, “WHAT’RE YOU DOING?” Not helpful.

Even as a coach, I reflected after last weekend and didn’t like how I was coaching because I was way too reactive. After all, I felt the pressure to win.

Final Thoughts

There will be times when the moment and our desire as competitors, coaches, and parents will come out. We may make some poor decisions, but when we huddle up with our teams and drive home, our athletes must know we love and support them no matter how they play.

Our goal at Bridging Impact is to give resources to parents and coaches so that young athletes can play well beyond their high school years, whether collegiately or just for fun.

A positive relationship with sports strongly determines whether someone will be physically active long after hanging up the shoes.

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