My kids are no longer playing youth sports. But two of them are coaching it, as well as my husband. Our youngest played her last college volleyball game over 7 years ago, so I’ve had some time to recover from being a competitive sports mom–or so I thought.
While attending my son-in-law’s basketball games this year, I found myself falling back into old habits, spectator behaviors I thought I’d left behind several years ago. I took a few deep breaths during one particularly heated game and realized that there were some things I, along with every sports parent, need to keep repeating as I watch youth sports.
5 Phrases Sports Parents Need to Keep Telling Themselves
Kids will make mistakes.
No matter how talented your athlete is or how prepared they are, they will STILL make mistakes. Every athlete does at every level. But sometimes parents get frustrated because kids seem to make such silly mistakes–they should know better!
Officials are human and will make mistakes too.
Most of the frustration I felt while watching my son-in-law’s games was directed at the refs. I caught myself saying ridiculous things to them and thought, “What am I doing? They are human, they will make mistakes–just like I do!”
My child will survive this experience.
Your child is stronger than you realize and if you let them feel your support, without interfering or jumping in to fix things for them, they WILL survive. In the moment, I know how hard it is to believe this, but with your unconditional love holding them up, they will be fine.
My child does not need me to fix things for them.
Not only will they survive, they will learn from it IF you let them. What’s more important than how many points your child scores, or how much playing time they get? The answer is very simple and applies to every child playing youth sports: the most important part of the game is what your child is learning that will help them grow up into strong adults.
Someday, my child is going to carry______ with them because of this game/season.
As you watch your child play, perhaps struggling, tell yourself what it is that your child will walk away from this game or season with. Maybe it’s leadership skills, maybe it’s persistence, or maybe it’s how to be a team player. Try to pinpoint one thing in every game that your child can carry with them as they leave the field or court.
Maybe as spectators, we are frustrated because the only thing we can do at games is yell; we can’t jump in to help, we can’t help the coaches or refs do their job we can only watch. And sometimes that watching is tortuous, so we vent and yell to make ourselves feel better.
Let’s be honest, yelling at the players doesn’t help them play better, and yelling at the officials does not make them officiate better. Yelling our frustrations is purely a venting mechanism.
All of us, myself included, would be much better off reminding ourselves of these five youth sports truths, making youth sports a much more positive experience for everyone involved.