How to Be a Positive Sports Parent
15 March 2023
Whether you’re a sports parent with several seasons under your belt or this is your first rodeo, there are ways you can support your athlete throughout their season.
After all, youth sports is about creating an environment where kids can learn fundamental skills, be a part of a team, and have fun. As their parent or guardian, you’re an important part of their experience. So here are a few reminders to help your family get the most out of their sport.
Keep it fun
Ask any kid why they love sports and you’ll most likely hear the answer: “It’s fun.” But as your athlete ages into older divisions, leagues may become more competitive, causing added pressure for them to perform at their best. In fact, research shows the number one reason kids quit sports by 14 years old is that they’re not having fun anymore.
So while winning is one factor, remember it’s not the only one. Instead, you can encourage mini goals throughout the season—like good sportsmanship, development of a new skill, putting in a full effort—that can be celebrated along the way, no matter what the scoreboard says.
Give them freedom to fail
Hear us out—let mistakes happen. Sure, no one wants their kid to fail, but it’s a part of the learning process. Plus, as a parent or guardian, you’re noticing their mistakes even more than they are. Giving them freedom to make their own choices fosters an environment with natural consequences—good and bad—and more importantly, offers them a sense of independence. Without it, your athlete may feel like they’re living up to your expectations.
Contribute to the team
Finding ways to be involved with your athlete’s team encourages a team-first, positive attitude. We know how hard it can be to find the time to volunteer as a coach, but maybe you can offer a small gesture, like bringing a snack after a game, helping distribute uniforms, or providing extra water bottles on a hot day. These small actions send a big message to your athlete—you support their team.
And at the very minimum, you should always respect the coach, referee or official, speaking graciously to them and about them. Don’t be that parent on the sideline—it’s never helpful. But if you have real concerns about their behavior, be sure to address it with the league director privately.
Manage your expectations
As you head into the season, check your expectations and make sure they’re realistic. If you’re in a league with volunteer coaches, you could get an inexperienced first-time coach. If your athlete has never played before, they may not improve as quickly as you’d think. If you live in an area with rainy spring weather, you might experience a lot of cancellations. Bottom line—roll with it. Being flexible and understanding will help you find the joy in youth sports. There’s no doubt about it.