Sports parents, are you a Learner or a Judger?

By Janis Meredith | Posted 2/12/2018

Sports parents have a choice to make that will greatly affect their child’s youth sports journey. This choice doesn’t involve which team your child plays on or which sport your child should play. These may be important choices, but they will not influence your child’s youth sports journey as much as another choice that many parents overlook.

The choice I’m talking about is one you make daily, and it starts with anything that affects you at any moment.

If you’re a sports parent, that can include a huge variety of events: your child striking out, the coach taking your child out of the game, another player playing the position your child has worked for, a debatable call by the official – and the list goes on.

RELATED CONTENT: It's time to adopt the 24-hour rule for sports parents

You don’t have much to say about those things happening to you, but you do have a choice in how you respond.

I’m reading a book called Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Life. It is a life-changing book! The author lays out a very powerful reality. At nearly every moment of our lives, we’re faced with choosing between two responses: every one of us chooses either the “Learner” or “Judger” path. The difference between the two is in the type of questions you ask.

The Judger asks negative, blaming questions. The Learner asks positive, seeking questions.

RELATED CONTENT: 5 things any parent can do at home to help make the next sports season your child’s best

Judgers ask:

What’s wrong with that person?

How can I prove I’m right?

Why is that person so clueless and frustrating?

Haven’t we been there, done that?

Why bother?

RELATED CONTENT: Football parents, set up your own OTAs

Learners ask:

What do I appreciate about that person?

Am I being responsible?

What can I learn?

What’s useful?

What is that person feeling, thinking and wanting?

What are the best steps forward?

What’s possible?

The author explains that most people shift back and forth between Learner and Judger mindsets, without even realizing it.

The first question to ask yourself when you are reacting to a situation is this: am I in Learner or Judger mode?

The difference between Learner and Judger sports parents is more than just a positive or negative attitude. As the author explains, with a Judger mindset, the future can be only a recycled version of the past. But with the Learner mindset, you can have positive change.

The next time you are at a game or practice and you find yourself reacting to something that bothers you, ask yourself: am I in a Learner or Judger mindset?

Once you recognize that fork in the road, you can start making the changes to keep you on the Learner path. And the ultimate result of the Learner mindset is a growing and positive youth sports experience for your child.

Janis B. Meredith is a life coach for sports parents. She provides resources to help parents give their children a positive and growing youth sports experience. Learn more about how she can help parents have Less Stress and More Fun in Youth Sports.