A National Alliance for Youth Sports resource helping coaches, parents and administrators provide the best youth sports experiences for children.
Making the most of your young athlete's season
It probably seems like a few short years ago your child was toddling around the house, getting into everything they weren’t supposed to. Now, they’re expressing their independence in so many ways and need you a little less each day. And although you love seeing the person they are becoming, you probably wish you could slow down the clock…just a little bit.
While you can’t stop time, you can create opportunities to share moments with your child by taking time to be involved in activities that interest them.
Sports participation offers many lifelong skills and benefits to youth athletes, and your involvement in the season can help maximize these benefits. Here are some ways to make a positive impact this season:
Learn about their sport. Researching the sport your child is playing will give you a better idea of the action taking place on the field, court or rink. Taking the time to learn about their sports is a great way to show your child that you care about their interests.
Don’t just show up – be present. Put away any distractions, like your cell phone, magazines, etc., during games. Take this time to focus on your child while they play and making sure they see your face smiling back at them from the bleachers – not your head down playing on your phone. Moments like these are fleeting.
Follow your child’s lead after disappointments. It’s normal for children to be disappointment after a loss or if they didn’t get the position they were hoping for this season. They may not want to rehash a poor performance or let down but let your child know you are there to talk them through it – if they want. Remind your child that everyone experiences setbacks; it’s how we respond to them that helps build character.
Show good sportsmanship. Role modeling good sportsmanship may be one of the most important – and easiest – ways you can influence your child’s behavior. If your child sees you respecting the coach, officials and other parents, applauding at appropriate moments and cheering for all the other players, they will get the idea and practice good sportsmanship themselves. (And that’s a real win!)
Leave playing instructions to the coach. Let your child receive instruction and criticism from their coach. What kids really need from their parents is to know that they are there to support and love them through wins and losses. Encouraging your child from the stands? Yes. Shouting advice to your child about how they should play? No.
Helping children learn life lessons through failure and disappointment that everyone experiences while competing is an important role for coaches and parents to handle. Are you ready for it?
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The Press Box is a weekly e-newsletter bringing you the latest news stories in youth sports, research on youth athlete safety and wellness, and more. Stories are carefully curated to bring subscribers only the best quality content and news.