Parent Tips

Youth athletes have a special ear for their parents' voices. Realize this during games, and make sure what they hear from you is not conflicting with coaches' instructions and intentions.

Before a game ask the officials if they would like to speak to your team and/or your parents. This show of cooperation sets the expectation of how everyone should respect the officials.

When your child's Coach redefines "winner" through a mastery approach to coaching, reinforce the coach's approach. Instead of focusing on the scoreboard, remember the ELM Tree of Mastery for Effort, Learning and Mistakes are OK (because mistakes help us learn, but fear of mistakes helps us fail).
Talk with your child about his goals and how sports may help him achieve them. Recognize that your goals for his sports experience may not be the same as his. Support him in striving to reach his goals. If the goals are all about skills or results, remind your child that "having fun" should be at the top of the list.

As soon as you know who your child's coach is going to be, introduce yourself, let him or her know you want to help your child have the best possible experience and offer to assist the coach in any way you are able. Meeting the coach early and establishing a positive relationship will make conversation easier if a problem arises during the season.

Let your child know you are ok with him not making a team. You may be disappointed for him if he doesn't make it, but you won't be disappointed in him. This can free him up to give his best effort.

It is the responsibility of players and coaches to try to win. You have a much more important responsibility: making sure your children draw from sports the lessons that will help them become successful, contributing adults.

Commit to conducting yourself by a code, which Positive Coaching Alliance calls "Honoring the Game". To remember components of this code, remind yourself and your children that Honoring the Game means respecting the sport's ROOTS, where ROOTS stands for Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates and Self.

To excel, your children must love the game enough to work at it. Pressuring them to excel can sap that love. You can nurture this love of playing by noticing and recognizing them for specific things they're doing well.

Avoid having your children specialize in one sport too early. It can lead to burnout and overuse injuries, and perhaps worst of all, falling out of love with the sport.

Help your young athlete to understand the value of a good opponent. Good opponents bring out the best in us. Model this attitude by talking about opponents respectfully. Never demonize the opponent as "the enemy".

Remember those growth charts that measured your children's heights at different ages? Create something similar each sports season, measuring their progress, just as you did with the growth chart, against their former selves.

Remember, research shows that athletes who receive positive encouragement, support and unconditional love from their parents tend to thrive. Remind your child that dinner will be on the table after the game regardless of how well he plays.

Ask your children's coaches if they have a coaching philosophy. If not, let them know you admire coaches who strive to win, while teaching life lessons through sports.