Does Yelling Instructions Hurt My Kid?

I watch and keep my mouth shut, but honestly… it’s so. incredibly. hard.


As a sports mom (and a competitive, former college athlete) I want to share my experience.


Trap! Trap! Trap! I want to scream to my son while watching his basketball game. The opponent is dribbling straight into the corner of the court! He’s in the perfect position to be well…trapped.


And so am I.


I get trapped by my need to continue to parent, to give instruction and to be helpful when my help and instruction are no longer needed or helpful.



In fact, my attempt to help is actually hurting my athlete.


Dr. Alan Goldberg,  Sports Performance Consultant and internationally-known expert in peak performance, says this…

When you offer technique, tactics or strategy information, when you provide ongoing corrections and/or criticism, then you are making a BIG, performance disrupting mistake, (even if you are technically or mechanically correct)!


Even if I’m technically and mechanically correct, I  still need to keep quiet?  And I’m not even certain he ever really hears me, so it can’t make that much of a difference, right?




Here’s why and this is one of the best explanations I’ve come across on why giving instruction (even when it’s positive and constructive) can mess up my athlete’s mindset during competition.


Dr. Goldberg says…

First, you are getting your child to THINK about what you said and what they are doing. You are putting them in their Front or Thinking Brain and this will totally distract them from what they are DOING in the action, at that moment! As a result, they will stop concentrating on the subtle cues that will help them perform well. In addition, their thinking will slow down their reaction time and foot speed and wreck their mechanics.


Oh, wow! When he puts it that way, I don’t want my athlete thinking. I want my athlete doing, playing, and being in the moment.


Dr. Goldberg goes on to remind us that…

No one can think their way through an athletic performance! Thinking during competition makes us slow, tentative and basically inept! To put it simply, our Front or Thinking Brain is an athletic idiot and if you are offering all this info to your child before or during the game, then you will end up making them nervous and physically tight! The secret to peak performance is you have them stay loose!


And I’ve been there myself as an athlete. Overthinking leads to paralysis and that’s the last place I want my athlete.


So now I do whatever it takes to keep myself in the Cheering Only section. I’m there to support, to connect, to watch and be their biggest fan.


The definition of a fan is “an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator”.


I’m going to be more intentional about spectating, cheering and enjoying from the sideline. With a lollipop in my mouth at all times…just in case!


So are you curious what sports mom personality you have? Find out!

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