5 things sports parents should not ignore

By Janis Meredith | Posted 8/8/2016

There is a time to act, and a time to ignore in youth sports. Going on a crusade to stomp out the negative in our youth sports culture is an overwhelming task. You will most likely do more to help by being a positive voice for what’s being done right and how to do it right, instead of constantly harping on what’s wrong.

But there are some behaviors that you absolutely should not ignore. If you notice any of these, it’s time to speak up.

  • Bully coaches. Remember that tough coaches are not necessarily bullies. Coaches can be strict and demand a lot from their players, without being a bully. But there’s no place for cussing or berating when coaching children. And quite honestly, it doesn’t make the coach a better instructor in high school or college.
  • False self-esteem. If you see that your child is basing his self-esteem on his performance, you need to address it. Kids struggle with self-esteem in sports all the time. Sports can be such an up-and-down experience. If your child bases his worth as a person on how well he performs, his self-esteem will be up-and-down too. Don’t stand by and watch your kid beat himself up because he didn’t do well. Listen for language that tells you if he is dangerously defining himself by his competitive achievements, and be the voice that stops the downslide.
  • Parent-pleasing. When your son or daughter first started to play, it may have been purely because Mom or Dad thought it was a good idea. But if your child continues to play merely to make someone else happy, not because he loves the game, it’s time for you to release him to try something he really enjoys.
  • Ignoring safety. There is no excuse for coaches playing around with the safety of athletes. If you see any infraction of safety guidelines or even coaches ignoring plain common sense, speak up before someone gets hurt.
  • Bad examples by coaches or leaders. This does not just include scandalous behavior. If your child’s coach is setting an example that it’s okay to lie and cheat to win, or that it’s okay to ignore the rules, then speak up. When a coach chooses to put on that hat, he is accepting the responsibility of leadership, a job that includes managing a team and exemplifying good character.

Looking the other way when you see one of these five bad behaviors may be the easy way out. After all, you have other things to worry about. But it is also the coward’s way out. Your children need you to keep your eyes and ears open in youth sports.

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach's wife, writes a sports parenting blog called jbmthinks.com. Her new booklet 11 Habits for Healthy and Positive Sports Parents is available on Amazon.