Through 22 years of being a sports mom and 31 years of being a coach’s wife, I’ve observed a lot of sideline behavior at games. I made my share of mistakes too—yelled things to the officials I shouldn’t have, had bad attitudes towards coaches—so I know the downsides of these behaviors, mainly that they do more harm than good.
If you want to be seen as a sensible youth sports spectator, here’s your secrets:
You know how to cheer without annoying others.
If you’ve ever sat near a parent who screams and gets excited about every little thing their child does, you know how annoying it can be. Of course, you should cheer for your kids when they score or make a good play, but if you are the parent who goes overboard, you are not only annoying parents around you, but there’s also a good chance you’re embarrassing your child too.
You let the coach do his job.
When you sign your child up for a team, you are entrusting him to the leadership of the coaches. If you can’t do that wholeheartedly, it’s probably time to look for another team.
Sure, it’s appropriate to discuss ideas with your child if she asks for help, but those conversations should be at home, not from the bleachers during the game. Your kids need to focus on the game and on what their coach is telling them to do; they do not need to hear you yelling instructions from the stands.
You are a positive voice in the stands.
Your positive voice should be heard during the game as you cheer for the team, in your comments to officials and coaches, and as you talk with other parents in the stands. It should also be heard when you think no one is listening, because they most likely are.
When my oldest played freshman volleyball, she did not start and at 5 feet 4 inches, she was not the most skilled volleyball player out there. In one match she was substituted in to play, and one of the parents near me said quite loudly, “oh no, what are you doing?” I had to restrain myself not to immediately go over there and give him a piece of my mind, although, after the game, I did confront him about what he said. I’m sure he learned that day to be careful of his words because you never know who’s listening.
I understand that much of the time parents are merely venting frustration as they are spectators at their kids’ games, but the honest truth is your words and actions do matter, to your child and to other spectators. Stay positive and sit back and enjoy the game as a parent. I’m pretty sure if you do, the game will be more much enjoyable for you, your child, and for other parents around you.
Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.