While the first football games for college and high school have been played, most youth sports teams are getting ready for Game 1 this weekend or next.
Coaches are figuring out lineups, working on play calling and trying to make sure all the game situations have been covered. For parents, it’s basically time to wipe the dust off your favorite sports chair or prepare to get a seat in the bleachers.
Even if we know very little about the technical aspects of the sport as parents, here’s some ways we can be helpful on game day.
- Volunteer to serve in an official capacity like on the chain gang, scorekeeping or being the timer. Serving as a ball person on the sideline is another easy role that has to be filled. If you’re not afraid of a microphone and there’s a sound system available, it’s also always fun for the kids to have an announcer.
- There are many other non-official roles too. Field setup and breakdown, filling and replenishing water coolers and setting up the post-game snacks are great ways to help, but when in doubt just ask the coach where you can help out.
- Most importantly, every parent should go out of their way to congratulate each player after the game – regardless of the outcome or player performance. It’s not the final score or stats that matter most, but rather the effort put forth. Don’t forget to also thank the coaches, and that goes for your child too!
Now, how about what NOT to do? This list will sound redundant, but as I unfortunately learned last week, people need reminders.
- Don’t criticize the referee, many of whom are volunteers. Regardless of what you think, they’re not rooting for one team more than the other and really don’t care what the final score is. They do their best to officiate the game, which is better than any parent sitting on the sidelines can say.
- Don’t ever publicly criticize a player who isn’t your own child.
- Following along with that, there’s no reason to publicly criticize your own child. You screaming at your child after the play is over will not change the outcome. It will only deflate their ego, which studies show never enhances performance.
Let the players play, the coaches coach and the officials officiate.
As parents, our goal before each game should be to support the team the best way we can. That means volunteering to help where needed and being the best fanbase we can be – and not just at the first game, but all season long.
Our kids, their teammates, coaches and the referees deserve that.
Jon Buzby has been involved in and writing about youth sports for the past 30 years with perspectives as a parent, coach and board member. 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.