10 rules for high school sports parents to follow

By Joe Frollo | Posted 9/3/2015

One word can raise the ire of most high school coaches:


All mean well. Most act well. Some, though, can drive a team apart and ruin what potential was there for their children.

Tim Warsinskey has covered high school sports for 21 years in Cleveland, Ohio, and is a high school sports parent himself. He recently shared 10 tips on Cleveland.com with his fellow sports parents to take into account before yelling their heads off at officials, threatening to transfer schools if they don’t get what they want or stalking outside locker rooms to “give that coach a piece of my mind.”

  • Have no expectations. Parents who go into a child’s freshman year thinking, “He or she is going to be a star,” are most often in for a disappointment. What an athlete does on the freshman and junior varsity team also is of little importance as teenage bodies and interest change so much during those high school years. Some of the best players in junior high and freshman year often have the advantage of hitting puberty early.
  • Give your kid space. Enjoy the successful moments from afar, and let teenagers deal with disappointments in their own way. Don’t get wrapped up in wins and losses. A parent’s job is to be supportive at all times.
  • Have an objective view. This one is hardest for most moms and dads. Some parents build their kids up beyond where talent can actually take them. Most of the time, athletes know better than parents what their ceilings are.
  • Empower children to make decisions. Dealing with adversity is an important lesson, but there will come a time in every athlete’s life when he or she has to limit what they are doing or walk away from sports entirely. For some, that comes in high school. Don’t encourage quitting in-season, but respect what the child is saying.
  • Grades really are No. 1. The chances a high school athlete gets a college scholarship are almost nil, but failing that ninth-grade history test really can set a student back when it comes to college. It’s especially important for student-athletes to keep the grades up and maintain pace with the NCAA Clearinghouse.
  • Don’t ignore injuries. Injuries are real. So is mental and physical fatigue. Playing hurt can damage a team’s success as well as the longterm health of the athlete.
  • Let your child fight his own battles. Whether it is playing time or other issues, teens need to learn how to deal with adults. Parents need to become involved when bigger issues arise – bullying, hazing, inappropriate behavior, etc.
  • Support the team. Don’t wait to be asked to volunteer, and don’t tie your service to your child’s playing time. Get to know other parents. Make the experience positive from the stands, no matter what is going on below.
  • Understand competition. This is not Little League where everyone gets to play. There will be disappointment, heartache and unfairness. And unless a season ends in a championship, it will end in defeat. Every kid will make mistakes. The coach will yell at your child on occasion. It’s OK. Your child will be fine.
  • Enjoy the ride. It will go by fast. Hug your kid a lot.