Your body has a language all its own, apart from the words you say to your kids before, during, and after games. It’s become such a part of who you are that you probably don’t think about it.
Take some time to notice what you do during the game because your body may be saying something that you actually do not want to communicate to your young athlete.
Here are 8 common body language mistakes that sports parents make:
1. Throwing your hands up. This communicates frustration and disgust to your child as your children are playing. If they see this, it will totally distract them.
2. Kicking the Dirt. Ditto.
3. Pacing the Sidelines. This may communicate your anxiousness more than anything, and your angst will only fluster your child.
4. Turning your Back on the Game. This broadcasts that you are disgusted and can’t stand to watch.
5. Shaking Your Head. Shows your frustration.
6. Rolling Your Eyes. Now, obviously your child will not see this during the game, but in pregame or postgame conversations as you listen to their explanations or excuses, eye-rolling, even if it’s just rolling your eyes slightly to the side, suggests you are agitated with your child.
7. Scowling. Before, during, and after games, your facial expression gives it all away. No matter what you may mean to communicate with your face, a scowl says you’re not happy with your child. Attach this to their performance in the game, and they will feel like you are upset with them because they didn’t play well.
8. Crossed Arms. I’ve become very conscious of doing this because I know it suggests that I am closed-minded, not receptive, or put-off by people. Standing that way at a game may look intimidating to your child from the court or field. It could be saying, “I’m tense!” instead of “I’m relaxed and enjoying watching my child play.”
I’ve talked a lot about filtering your words, especially in tense conversations. But it would be wise to filter your body language, too. Perhaps in your frustration to control your words, you let it seep out in your body language instead. And the result is still the same: it’s distracting to your child’s game. What your children need to see when they glance to the spectators, is you sitting relaxed, taking it all in with enjoyment, and cheering them on.
Janis B. Meredith is a sports parenting blogger, podcaster, and life coach. She provides resources to help parents give their children a positive and growing youth sports experience. Learn more about good sports parenting habits in her book, 11 Habits for Happy & Positive Sports Parents, available on Amazon.