10 Rules for Parents to Live By
#1: Be your childís number one fan. Seems simple, doesnít it? However, I think we lose sight of how important it is for a child to know their parents care about watching them play. I was one of the lucky ones that seemingly always had mom or dad or grandma at my games, but Iíve seen the other side of this many times. I recall varsity athletes who didnít even have a parents show up for a single game during the year, including home games and parents night. They were good at pretending like they didnít care, but I know better. Be there for them. Watch them. Cheer for them. And make sure they know you care.
#2: Unless youíre the coach, youíre not the coach. This is the most obvious one that many people are guilty of breaking, but it is a rule that every parent should adhere to. There is nothing more frustrating for a player, especially younger players, than hearing a dozen different voices yelling at them while they are playing during a game. ďWho do I listen to? What should I do? My coach is saying pass and my dad is saying shoot!Ē And with all due respect to the parents that are guilty of breaking this rule, your advice is usually either obvious or really stupid. My (least) favorite one is the soccer mom that incessantly yells, ďSHOOT! KICK IT! GO GET IT! GET THE BALL! KICK IT! KICK IT!!Ē Really, mom? Iím playing soccer and your advice is ďkick the ballĒ. Thanks a lot for thatÖitís a good thing you filled me in.
#3: Under no circumstance is it acceptable to say anything negative about another player. Believe it or not, this happens so much more than anyone would expect. It happens in the stands, at home, after games, and anywhere else you could imagine. Parents often will say negative things without even realize they are doing it because they get caught up in the result of the game rather than the experience it provides for their child. Talking about other players leads to hard feelings from other parents and often times can lead to friction between the players themselves if the parents are careless enough to discuss this in front of their own child. The best option is to not talk at all about other players in a negative wayÖeven if you think it is constructive.
#4: Lay off the officials and donít blame them for losses. Parents that complain about officials generally have the players that do the same, so set the example. As a coach, it is your job to defend your players and discuss the game with officials, but this is NEVER the job of the parents. Most of the time, officials are getting paid very little if anything at all. They often volunteer their time to help the kids and many are very helpful during the course of the game towards the kids, taking the time to explain things and offer suggestions to them about how to better themselves. Also, NEVER let your child hear you complain about an official even after a game. Kids need to learn that blaming an official is unacceptable behavior, but should rather look at what THEY could have done better to win the game.
#5: Teach your child to lose graciously and win with class. When you are an athlete, you will inevitably win and lose. You will win close games and blowouts, and you will also lose close games and blowouts. It is very important that parents teach their kids to learn to cope with any of these situations. As I mentioned in #4, donít place blame on anyone for a loss. Not an official. Not a coach. Not a player. Teach your child that itís ok to give credit to the other team for winning the game and show them how to do it with graciousness by setting the example. In addition, teach them to win with class as well. Donít rub it in the other teams face and teach them to congratulate the other team on their effort, and do this by setting the example for them in the stands and with parents from other teams.
#6: Say something positive after every game. Donít wait until you criticize them either. The first words out of your mouth after every single game should be something positive. It doesnít matter whether or not they played the best game of their lives or the worst game, you need to find something positive to say. No one feels worse after a poor performance than your child does, so they need to know they can look forward to hearing something good from their number one fan after the game. If your child is 0 for 4 with four strikeouts and three errors, tell them how proud you were that they kept trying their best. Let them know that itís ok to have a bad game and that you support them no matter what.
#7: Never compare your child to another player. I am guilty of this myself although I didnít do it in way that I thought was bad at the time, but it is still not right. Donít ever make comments about how your child should throw like Jimmy or run like Tommy, even if itís just an attempt to offer a suggestion on how to play. Your child does NOT need to hear how good another player is and they surely donít want to be compared to them. Iím not saying you shouldnít compliment another player for their good performance because that is totally fine, but at no point should you ever make your child feel inferior to another player by using them as an example for your child. Kids know when other players are better than they areÖhowever, they donít need to be compared to them.
#8: Your child is not Michael Jordan. Deal with it. It doesnít matter how talented you child is, there is always someone out there that is faster, stronger, and bigger. Be realistic. Coaches see all aspects of your child at practice and in most cases will give them the playing time and the opportunity they deserve. Most parents have a tendency to see all of the good things that their child does, but often times are blind to the bad things. I see this all the time, even with parents that claim to NOT be that way. I mentioned before that it is important to point out the positives, but it is important to recognize their limitations and to live with them. 99% of young athletes will not play college sports and an even smaller percentage will play professional sports, so keep your expectations realistic.
#9: Donít live your sports dreams through your child. Iíve never understood this one, but I see it all the time. The parents that remind me of Uncle Kip from Napolean Dynamite, sitting around and talking about the glory days and how things would have been if coach would have let them play in the big game. These are generally the parents that are the toughest on their kids and the ones that cause the most problems with coaches, officials, and other parents, and they need to get a life. Donít use your child as a way to live out what you wanted from your sporting career and donít use your child as a way to right all the wrongs that happened to you. Your career is over. Your day in the sun is long gone. Let your child live their own dreams and donít do it for them.
#10: Have fun. Have fun. Have fun. Everyone likes to winÖI get that. Everyone likes to see their child winÖI get that. But at the end of the day, sports is about learning life lessons, developing relationships, and having fun with your friends. I donít care how competitive the situation is, the kids need to know they can let loose and enjoy themselves. This doesnít mean that you canít work hard or take the game seriously, it simply means that you need to allow yourselves to loosen up and laugh once in a while. I see so many parents that take the game more seriously than their child, and something just isnít right about that.
The list could go on and on, but I think Iíve touched on the major points. Be a fan. Respect the game. Respect the players, coaches, officials, and parents. And yesÖHAVE FUN.