8 things athletes need from their sports dad

By Janis Meredith | Posted 11/5/2018

Sports dads don’t all do things the same way. They vary from being too hard to too soft on their athletes.

A few weeks ago, a dad on my daughter’s varsity softball team (she’s one of the coaches) harshly made his daughter practice her pitching immediately after her team had lost a game pretty badly. As he pushed her to practice, she was in tears.

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What makes a sports dad do this? I’m sure the dad loves his child, and wants the best for them, but he’s obviously got a twisted view of how to express that love.

If you’re a sports dad, here’s the kind of love your child needs you to show them:

Unconditional love

Your child will make mistakes, disappoint you and maybe even seem to dislike you for a season, but don’t let them question your love for them. Tell them often, even if they don’t respond.

Unwavering belief in them

Even when they don’t play their best, they need to know you still belief in them. You still believe they have the capability, one bad game, or even several bad games, do not define them as an athlete.

Tough love

Challenge them to be their best, to work harder and then show them how it’s done. My husband introduced our three kids to the weight room and instilled in them the need for hard work — and it shows. Today, as young adults in their careers, they are avid and competitive cross-fitters.

Physical presence

As much as you can, be at their games. Your presence — minus the sideline coaching — communicates your support for them and what they love to do.

Personal attention

For 31 years, my husband has made it a practice to spend time one-on-one with each of our kids. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be a bike ride together, or a trip for an ICEE or frozen yogurt.

Protection, but not micro-managing

Your child should always know that Dad is there to protect them if anyone should try to hurt or harm them. But they do not need you to micro-manage their friendships, relationships with their coaches and their sports battles.

Help when they ask

When a problem they’re having arises in sports and they ask for your help, give them the help they need. Make it a priority. But let them come to you — don’t make it a habit to coach them in the car, at home or at dinner, when they don’t ask.

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Sports dads, there’s no need to orchestrate your child’s sports career or to take it upon yourself to “toughen them up.” They will learn how to be tough if you love them, let them fight their own battles, and let them learn to push themselves. Just be their biggest fan.

Janis B. Meredith is a parenting coach. She provides resources to help parents raise champions. Learn more about how she can help parents Raise Champions.