Tips For Parents Of Youth Athletes 

Tips For Parents Of Youth Athletes

As parents, it’s only natural to want your children to succeed in endeavors like school and sports. Adults who put their kids into athletics, however, need to remember that sports stop being fun for kids when too much pressure falls on their shoulders to succeed instead of enjoying the game. While all parents have a high emotional stake in their children’s games, parents of players need to ensure that every action they take centers around just one outcome: making sure their kid is safe and happy on the field, ice or track.

Lead by Example
Inevitably, parents pass their characteristics to their kids, meaning that active parents will be more likely to raise active children. Indeed, there’s a genetic component to health, with overweight parents more likely to raise overweight children. Children imitate behavior they see every day. Those who watch their parents lounge while watching television will be less likely to enjoy sports and exercise, while those who watch their parents participate in active hobbies will want to pursue the same hobbies. Exhibit the type of lifestyle you want your child to exemplify, both in sports and in other activities, by committing to healthy lifestyles with enthusiasm, so that they will always want to lace up for the next game.

Let Kids Decide
While some parents may dream that their child will succeed at the same sports they played, not all kids enjoy the same sports as their parents. Some kids may prefer a more active sport, or a more cerebral sport, or a sport with more physicality. Give kids lots of time and room to find out which types of sports are their favorite — whether it’s football, tennis or Ping-Pong — and allow them to quit whenever it’s clear they aren’t having fun.

Kids, in general, aren’t great at making decisions. This doesn’t mean you should make the decision for them, but help them clearly understand the positives and negatives of playing a sport, then compare it with pros and cons of changing to another activity. Your child’s participation should make him/her a happier, healthier individual; whenever he/she is neither happy nor healthy it’s time to change the plan.

Never be the Second Coach
While every parent should show up to as many of their kids’ games as possible to support the team, parents need to understand the importance of distancing themselves from the coach or referees. Parents at a game are not the coaches: they do not have any input on which kids go onto the field and which come off, nor do they have the ability to determine penalties or misconduct. A bit of good-natured grumbling about a foul is one thing, but parents who are disruptive during a game or who demand that coaches adhere to their specific wishes lead to a tremendous source of stress for their kids and the entire team.
It’s typical for coaches to quit their position of authority due to overbearing parents attempting to “help” a team. One coach calls it the ESPN effect, where parents watch sports on television and feel like they have the experience and competency needed to determine which players should be on the field. When their kid plays a game, the best role the parent can assume is a fan; and the worst role a parent can take is a second coach.

Participate, When Possible
Parents who are used to their kid being away all day at school may find themselves using youth sports as a means of getting their son/daughter out of the house for another few hours each day. While youth sports offers parents the chance to run an occasional errand knowing that their child is busy, parents should never rely on youth sports for the express purpose of a babysitter. It’s crucial to get involved with the team, whether it is raising funds for uniforms, carpooling kids to and from practices, bringing snacks on game day, or organizing road games against out-of-town teams. Parents who put in the elbow grease to make the team stronger will find their kids invest more effort and enjoy the process than parents who use it as a way to keep their child occupied.

About the author:
AJ Lee is a Marketing Specialist at Pro Stock Hockey, an online resource for pro stock hockey equipment. He picked up his first hockey stick at age 3 and hasn’t put it down yet. He was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago and has been a huge Blackhawks fan his entire life.

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