For parent's, sacrifices worth it for children's athletic careers

Quit Being that Parent…

Your child deserves it.

You are ruining your child’s experience. I know, I know, you are competitive. You are different. You and your child “have an understanding.” Whatever the story is that you tell yourself to justify your actions. Trust me, you are making things more difficult for your child, whether you know it or not.

Quit being that parent...

in the stands that is the coach

Who should the athlete listen to? You? The coach? The trainer?  We could employ chiropractors at gyms across the country because kids’ heads are spinning around trying to locate who to listen to next.  If your son or daughter has made his or her high school team or has been chosen for a particular AAU or youth team, than there is an inherent trust between coach and family.  When the coach is preaching ball movement, giving up a “good shot for a great shot” and mom and dad are telling their kid to “shoot it” or “take him” every time, there is conflict and confusion. 

The athlete loves, respects and lives with their mom, dad, aunt or family guardian. They are aiming to please both their coach and parent and it’s impossible to do both when those two messages don’t align.

Let the coach be the coach.

You be, just the parent in the stands. Embarrass your kids because of how much you are cheering, encouraging and enjoying watching them play not because of how much you are yelling at the coaches, refs or the other players.

Quit being that parent...

that coaches on the car ride home

Your son just lost the game. The coach told him 14 things he did wrong. The last thing he needs is another 17 from Dad. Now, if your son misbehaved on the court and there is a teachable moment about character and integrity, that is a different story. However, breaking down each shot attempt and missed box out is being a coach, not Dad.

Imagine at the end of every work day, your boss calls you into his office to critique you and then on the car ride home, your husband or wife critiques everything you did that day too. This scenario would probably cause you to hate your job and your family. Instead, choose your words wisely on the car ride home.

Ask your child if they are enjoying their experience. If they are, then maybe you should too. Why stir up something if the most important person (the child/player) in the experience is having a positive time?

In the event that your child had a bad game, help equip your child with how to find the positives in their performance. Adults, like some children, are very good at self-critiques. We also need to be able to celebrate ourselves in bad moments. You can also encourage your child to approach the coach at the next game or practice to find out tangible ways to improve.

Read More: Quit Being So Hard to Coach

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Quit being the parent...

who bad-mouths the coach

in the stands and at home  

What purpose does it serve? I know you have the perfect zone defense that would stop the other team.  Or you know EXACTLY who could’ve had more minutes to help the team win the game. Just stop it. This behavior creates negative energy amongst other parents and, most importantly, affects your child.

It’s hard enough for a coach to earn the trust and respect of their players. If the parents are bad mouthing the coach at home every waking moment, it disrupts and poisons the TEAM environment. It also sets a precedent for your child. It teaches them that when things are not exactly how you want them that you should complain.

If there is something terribly concerning or the well being of your child is in jeopardy, approach the coach with your concerns in a respectful and open way.  If you are not willing to approach the coach with your concerns, then stop gossiping. As a mentor of mine once said, “Pass compliments down and complaints up.”

In other words ,if you are only stating the problems to peers or other kids, re-evaluate your approach. Equip your child with ideas and ways to take their frustrations to their coach and how to communicate with a superior. This is a life lesson that will serve them well, especially later on in life when they work for a challenging boss or must communicate with a difficult person.

The parent, of an athlete I coach, recently expressed this since he chose to be just a parent in the stands. “I just enjoy it much more now. I can just be dad and I think she is having more fun with me not always coaching her from the stands and in the car.”

Self-awareness is an important trait for all of us. Ask yourself the tough questions as a parent. Am I contributing to the growth and positive experience of my son or daughter? Or am I just contaminating it? Follow up by asking your child, these same questions, and then brace yourself for their honesty. You might be surprised that you are simply masking your desires with “I just want what’s best for my daughter and for them to get a fair shot.”

Read More: Quit Being So Stinking Hard to Play For

There is no one way or “right way” to raise children. Coaches played a huge role in my life as did my parents and the game of basketball.  I was able to form my own thoughts and opinions of my coaches without the influence of my parents. They let my coaches coach and didn’t interject themselves into that process. 

With three young kids now, I often reflect back on my experiences as an athlete. I am very aware and intentional with my role as a parent in their athletic experiences. I challenge and encourage you to evaluate your role in that process as well. It may require you to take a back-seat and let the coach drive the bus.  It won’t always be easy but may be the most beneficial decision you can make as a parent for your child in their athletic career.


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