How to Not Get Sucked into Youth Sports Negativity

By Janis Meredith | Posted 4/29/2019

Have you ever sat in the stands watching your child play, when you start hearing the parents next to you complain about the coach, their child’s playing time, or the “blind officials”? The ugly side of youth sports has reared its head once again and negativity poisons what should have been a fun experience.

Negativity in youth sports is everywhere. It may not be on every team, but if your child plays long enough, you will be exposed to it. The trick is not getting sucked into it.

As a sports mom for 21 years and coach’s wife for 29, I’ve been through seasons when the negativity was rampant, and I have learned some strategic ways to not get sucked in.

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Stay away from sympathy groups. Those parents gathered in clusters before, during and after the game complaining about the coach, bashing certain players and bemoaning their child’s lack of playing time are called sympathy groups. Nothing good ever comes from them and no problems are ever solved by them.

Sit away from negative fans. Whether you find a spot away from the parent group or set up a chair near the outfield, sometimes the best way to get away from negative parents is not sit near them. I did this a lot as a coach’s wife and sometimes even as a sports parent. If not, the negativity would have me steaming.

Fight back with positivity. Support the coach-even if you don’t agree with his philosophy--and cheer for every member on the team, even if you don’t like them. Let it be obvious that you are supporting the entire team and want to encourage every person on it, including the coach. When someone spews negativity in your ear, counter back with a positive remark, one that steers them away from their complaint and helps them focus instead on how to solve the problem.

For instance, when a friend says, “That coach is an idiot! He sat my kid on the bench for most of the second half!” You could say, “It’s hard to watch, but has your child asked the coach for help on improving? Has she asked why? There’s usually a reason we don’t know about or see because we aren’t at practice all the time.”

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Do that enough and people will soon learn that you won’t join in on the negativity. They may even keep it to themselves when you’re around because they know they won’t get a sympathetic response from you.

Negativity is a powerful force; it’s not easy to keep from getting sucked into it. Parents, let’s start a positive movement in youth sports that eclipses the negativity. Take a positive stand today!

Janis Meredith is a family coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at