I am often asked my opinion on things that involve football. The questions range from how to find which player position best suits a child to who I think will win the Super Bowl, and pretty much everything in between. I have many thoughts on the game, on coaching, and on improving performance, so I am starting Passing Thoughts to share some of those thoughts. I welcome your comments and conversation. –KR

Sunday, September 9, 2012

5 Tips to Being a Great Sports Parent

Now that all area teams and leagues have started their games, it is a good time to offer some reminders to parents on how to best support their young athletes. We want to encourage our kids, and we want them to develop confidence and character that last long after the season ends! These are the five things that I would encourage every parent of a young athlete to remember:

5. Stay Positive
There will be struggles. You will disagree with coaches and other parents at times, and the kids will sometimes make poor decisions and not play well. Your number one job is to encourage your child and other members of the team. Negativity only magnifies a frustrating situation for everyone involved, so keep your comments and your attitude positive.

4. Show Respect
It is hard to expect kids to be respectful of opponents and officials if parents are not being respectful. Parents who emphasize the importance of respect to all—teammates, coaches, opponents and officials—will help instill character in their children. Remember that kids are always paying attention, and we should demonstrate respect and character off the field if we expect it to be displayed on the field.

3. Live Healthy
Youth sports place a high physical demand on young athletes. Parents need to make sure their kids are getting proper nutrition and rest. Use this opportunity to teach your kids about healthy food choices and about “de-stressing” away from the sport. Kids need to find a balance between school and activities, and parents can support healthy choices that energize a child physically and emotionally.

2. Support Your Coach
Parents need to show support for their child’s coach and repeat the things the coach is preaching to their child. Listen to the things the coach suggests players work on outside of practice, and then help your child to do those things! You need to be proactive and supportive of the coach’s beliefs. If you question the coach's philosophy or coaching technique, communicate that privately with the coach…it should never take place in front of the kids. You will have the best experience if you work together to make the experience fun and rewarding. Remember, you are all on the same team when it comes to finding success for these kids! 

1. Relax and Enjoy 
Kids are going to make mistakes and display emotion. It is part of the learning experience in youth sports, and parents who focus too much on winning and perfection are not doing their kids any favors. Young athletes need help understanding how to win and lose with grace. Don’t forget that at the end of the day, they are kids, and they need their confidence intact. Relax and be proud of their efforts! 

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