The summer is over in a blink of an eye and new school years and new sports seasons are already upon us.  Whether your children are younger or older, sports can be a huge benefit to their lives.  Whether it’s finding one sport that your child loves, or just getting them involved in team work and physical activity; sports fill a lot of our free time and bring a lot of joy to children.   We want our children to excel, to have fun, and to love sports, but what more can we do to make it a fully positive experience?

The Car Ride Home

Years back I was at our regional youth soccer kick off meeting and they showed a video from the Positive Coaching Alliance that showed research that many athletes stated that the worst part of youth sports was “the car ride home”.

That was the part where their parent would analyze their performance, give “helpful” tips on what to do better next time, or in worse cases, degrade and chastise them for their deficiencies and losses.  Many of these commenting were players who presumably had both the skills and the heart to continue to play until college, citing these as some of the worst moments of their sports careers.  Knowing that most of our kids will not grow up to play sports in college or beyond, what can we do to ensure our kids get the most out of their childhood sports experience?

A Good Sports Experience

  1. Let the coach coach.  Yes, the coach may be just another parent volunteering. But they volunteered. They took the lead. They may or may not have more experience than you, but they are the coach. Let them coach, or volunteer next time.  Players need to get used to listening in one direction, to the coach who has an eye for the full team and game, and not be constantly distracted by parent coaching on the sidelines.
  2. Cheer all you want. I’m not saying keep quiet on the sidelines! I’m the loudest parent out there and I’m sure it’s not only obnoxious but also embarrassing.  But all my yelling is words of encouragement and excitement. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.
  3. After the game, in conversations with your kid, say this one thing and this one thing alone: 

Good game, bad game, win or loss, all you really have to say is:

“I LOVE TO WATCH YOU PLAY”.

It doesn’t matter if they score or defend or do really nothing of true value to the team, let them walk away from the game encouraged because they know you were happy just to see them play.

On the off chance they didn’t get to play, were sidelined, injured, or any other number of things, another thing to say would be:

“I AM SO PROUD YOU ARE A PART OF A TEAM”

More Than Just a Sport

Team spirit, sportsmanship and team support are a huge part of what sports are about. Let your kid know you were proud to see them support their team whatever their role was – even if it was just showing up.

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Gia is a native Californian who has lived all over the state from San Diego to Trinity County, plus Washington DC for a short time. She recently relocated to Ventura County with her family to build a compound property together with her sister’s family so that they could always share wardrobes and parenting responsibilities for their 5 combined children at home. Gia graduated from UCSB with a degree in Linguistics (which she thinks entitles her to make up words). It took her just three years, as she was eager to graduate early to go live with her long distance boyfriend and his toddler daughter at the time. That seemed to work out, as the boyfriend got promoted to husband years ago and her step-daughter promoted her to grandmother recently! Gia’s husband is from East Africa and runs their Bed and Breakfast in Tanzania from near and far. Gia is a Human Resources Director who has a major obsession with watermelon and eggnog lattes, depending on the season.

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