My journey as a sports mom began over 25 years ago when my oldest, now 31, became a little gymnast.
All three of my children started sports before they started school and between the three of them, played 8 different sports. If you add up all the hours I’ve spent watching my kids play sports growing up and in college and my husband coach for 29 years, it would amount to over 10 straight months of watching competitions–24/7.
Through the years I’ve learned a few lessons on how to appropriately behave as a spectator.
Of course, I blew it a lot at the beginning–yelled things to the refs I shouldn’t have, struggled with bad attitudes towards coaches or players–and sometimes, but I did finally learn some things along the way about how to be a good spectator in youth sports:
Be Your Kid’s Cheerleader, but Don’t Be Annoying.
When my kids were small, they loved to hear us cheer and yell for them. But when they got older–somewhere around middle school and definitely in high school–we realized it was time to show a little self-control.
Let’s be honest, it’s rather annoying to sit near parents who scream and yell for every basket or every strike or every tackle. Of course, we cheer for our kids when they score or make a good play, but some parents just go way overboard and not only embarrass themselves, they embarrass their athlete child.
Be a Spectator, not a Coach.
We entrusted our children to the instruction of their coaches. We discussed strategies and ideas to help them become better players, but we did this at home, not from the bleachers during the game.
Our athlete-kids need to focus on the game and on what their coach is telling them what to do; they do not need to hear us yelling constant instructions from the stands. Another behavior that is annoying to both kids and other spectators.
I’m not just talking about yelling at the refs or cowardly spewing negative comments to the coaches either, I’m talking about what you say to other parents that others can overhear–the moan you let slip when that not-so-talented player is put into the game or loudly chastising a player for his or her mistake.
When my oldest played freshman volleyball, she did not start and at 5 feet 4 inches, she was not the deadliest volleyball player out there. One game she was substituted in and one of the parents near me said quite loudly, “Oh no, what are you doing?” Talk about a momma bear’s anger!
I had to restrain myself not to immediately go over there and give him a piece of my mind.
After the game, however, I did confront him with these words: “Look, I know my daughter is not the best volleyball player out there, but she works hard to get on the court, so I would appreciate it if you would keep your negative comments to yourself!”
Stick to these three simple guidelines, and I’m pretty sure you and your child, and other parents around you will enjoy the game a whole lot more!
Janis B. Meredith
Janis B. Meredith is a parenting coach who wants to help parents raise champions. Learn how she can help you achieve your parenting goals while raising your champion!