5 things to let go of in youth sports this year

By Janis Meredith | Posted 1/25/2017

With 2017 underway, you face new seasons, new coaches, and new challenges as a sports parent. I’d like to suggest 5 things you must let go of this year if you are going to successfully give your child a positive and enriching youth sports experience.


1. Other people’s opinions of you

If you are a parent who doesn’t like to get sucked into the negativity of youth sports, you might feel like an outsider. Parents may try to pull you into their sympathy groups and when you don’t join, they leave you to yourself. It is not necessarily a bad thing, but nobody likes the feeling of being disliked or ignored.

It’s time to let go of your people-pleasing habits and do what you know is right for your child and for you. Don’t let the crowd’s opinions of you determine your behavior. Show your child what it means to have the courage to do what’s right regardless of what others think of you.


2. Your opinion of everyone else

What kind of a year would it be if you adopted the directive seek to understand” instead of labeling and jumping to conclusions?

There may be a very good reason why the coach never smiles, the team star” has an attitude, or a parent on your child’s team never volunteers.

We are always so quick to form opinions of others without knowing their story. I’m not saying their behavior is right or even acceptable, but seeking to understand does more to help others than labeling does.


3. Your need to control

Open your fist and let go. You do not need to be in control of everything your child does.

You don’t need to find the best team for him to play on or confront the coach when he’s not getting the playing time he wants. Stop smoothing out every bump in the road so your child doesn’t trip. Your need to control is not helping your child grow.


4. Your comfort zone

Getting outside of your comfort zone is something every parent needs to do, sports parent or not. As parents we are simply not meant to live in our comfort zones.

Show your kids how to take risks, try new things, and take initiative.

For some of you, it may mean agreeing to help coach your child’s team. For others, being the team parent or learning how to run a snack bar. Just because you’ve never done it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!

Whether you venture out of your comfort zone in the youth sports arena, in your job, or in your relationship with your child, just do it!

I’ve never regretted trips outside my comfort zone because they’ve always stretched me, brought me new friends, and made me a stronger person. Show your kids what it looks like to face and conquer fears.


5. Your Desire for Perfection

Wanting to see your kids do well often makes parents push for perfection. Perfection from their child, perfection from the coach, and perfection from the officials.

Stop pushing your child to do something he or she has no passion for. Striving for perfection has to be your child’s goal, not yours.

Stop demanding that the coach have a perfect game plan that includes your child getting lots of playing time, the team winning, and each child reaching his or her full potential. Coaches are not super heroes; they are people with jobs, moms, dads, uncles, and aunts. They are just trying to help kids, not get promoted to college or pro.

Stop expecting the official to always get every call right. He or she is human, after all.

Work on encouraging excellence, not perfection.

As Edwin Bliss once said, “The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste of time.”


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