A must-read for all sports parents


Our typical vision of a nightmare sports parent is one of excess " the parent who goes so nutso he's arrested or makes the evening news. He's a YouTube embarrassment to the family.

Maybe you know a nightmare sports parent who makes a spectacle of herself at her child's games. But do you fit in the category of nightmare sports parent? Or at minimum, a bad dream sports parent?

I certainly thought I was innocent. I try to yell only encouragement from the stands and keep my grumbles of complaint limited to the fans sitting next to me. My husband will occasionally admonish an official, You need to call it both ways, ref. When he says it, he's calm and I think, generally right. He's a great coach and spectator who wants the game played fairly and the kids to have fun.

Together, we sat down to read an article from a site called The PostGame . It made us review our behavior during and after a game and wonder, Are we guilty?

The number one offense of well-meaning parents seems to happen on the ride home, when we dissect the game with our kids. This article says your young athlete needs distance after a competition. Let your child bring up the subject when he or she is ready.

This advice comes from a pair of long-time coaches who give seminars around the country on how to be a good coach, spectator and parent. According to their informal survey over the years, the number one complaint of young athletes, The ride home from games with my parents.

My husband and I are not ogres. We would never berate our children about the way they play. But I'm not sure we give them the downtime they may want. It seems we're asking about the game the second they shut the car door.

These motivational speakers say the only thing your child really needs to hear is, I love watching you play. From there, the ball is in his or her court, as the saying goes.

Many parents are guilty of undermining the coaching staff. These coaches say parents should not yell instructions from the stands. Oops. I think of the times I've told my girls to set up the offense or to look for the outlet pass. Let the coach handle that stuff.

Another no-no: don't second guess the coach or other players with your child. Don't question why a coach called a play or how a teammate tossed up far too many shots. Stick to the positive. Absolutely. Bite your tongue, even if you have to draw blood. Good advice, but sometimes, oh, so hard to follow.

A point on which I disagree with these motivational speakers is when a parent says something like, You did it just like we worked on in the driveway. To me, that's positive reinforcement. They say that's an example of a parent taking credit for the child's good play.

The article gives some good advice and pointers, including five situations to avoid and the five signs you are a dream sports parent. I encourage you to read it and ask yourself which team you're playing for.

Take care ~Sarah D.