In Parents' Role in Youth Sports

One of the bigger traps that parents fall into which inadvertently contributes to their child’s performance problems and much unhappiness is to COACH. As a parent you want your child to be both happy and successful. However, when you “help” them by coaching, (i.e. pre-competition motivation, suggestions about technique and strategies, goal setting, after competition critiquing, pushing extra cross training on them, etc.) your “helpful” efforts will almost always backfire.

If you want your child to be happy and go as far as possible in his/her sport, then you need to play your role on the parent-coach-athlete team to the best of your ability. What is your role? You need to be your child’s best fan. You need to be unconditionally loving and supportive. You need to emotionally be there for your child when he/she fails. You need to be totally disconnected from the outcome of your child’s performances. That is, you don’t want to love your child more when he/she is successful and less when he/she falls short. Your role on a championship team is support.

What this means is that you need to avoid anything that smacks of coaching. Unless your child directly asks you and can constructively use the information, you want to stay away from offering them technique, strategy or training suggestions. These are all the jobs of the real coach. They are NOT a parent’s job. When you coach as a parent, you may believe that you are being helpful: Trust me on this one: YOU’RE NOT! Coaches are supposed to push athletes out of their comfort zone. Parents are supposed to love their children unconditionally and not push them in relation to their sports.

Be your child’s best fan. Be supportive. Help your child keep his/her sport in perspective. And, above all else, remember that the sport belongs to the child, NOT you. It’s supposed to be fun. When you allow your child to have ownership of the sport, when you keep it in perspective, when you insure that your child continues to have fun, he/she will remain healthy and happy….and, by the way, have the best chance to perform to his/her potential!


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