It’s very rare that you ever go to a practice and not hear a parent barking encouragement, instructions or more often, criticisms to their child during the action. When practices take place in a gymnasium, it’s easy for coaches to close practices to parents and other spectators. But this is almost impossible in the open space of a football field.
Just like during games, except for the encouragement part, the rest of our “words of wisdom” either fall on deaf ears or become a distraction to everyone involved in the practice.
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Here are three suggestions of ways you can occupy your time to avoid being “that parent” in the bleachers during practice. (Side note: The author has proven all of these effective)
Stay in the car
This is the best way to spend the practice time if you are a parent who has trouble remaining quiet. It removes us – note I said “us” – from the setting but keeps us close enough should something happen like an injury or illness when we might need to get involved.
Read a book
If it’s too cold to sit in the car or you don’t like to be that far away, most likely you’ll end up sitting in the bleachers or in a chair near the action. These days, almost everyone spends this type of down time on their phone checking email, surfing the internet or playing solitaire or Candy Crush. But these immaterial distractions are just that – distractions, so we still tend to pay too much attention to the practice.
If we're engrossed in a good book, it devours our complete attention, and therefore we tend to block out everything that’s going on around us, in this case, our child’s performance in practice.
Serve in a volunteer role
If neither of the above ideas work for you, try offering to help the coach with non-technical practice elements. Think any type of activity that will turn your focus away from your child’s practice performance and instead keep it focused on the task assigned.
I’m a big proponent of coaches avoiding distractions at practice to maximize the players’ attention paid to details. Sometimes those distractions include us parents, too.
Jon Buzby has been involved in and writing about youth sports for the past 30 years, originally as a coach and board member with his now-adult son and most recently "just as a dad" with his 8- and 10-year-old sons. Jon is an award-winning writer and his latest book, “Coaching Kids Made Easier,” is available on Amazon. Send comments or future blog topics you'd like to see to JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @YouthSportsBuzz on Twitter.