Candrea on Coaching: Sports Parenting the Right Way

July 12, 2016, 7:13 p.m. (ET)


I know it is hard to believe that someone would actually get in the way of their child’s experiences in sport in a negative way and force many to quit before their development allows them to begin enjoying the sport.  But it happens around the country every single day of the year!

I always look at the two things that we as children do without anything but encouragement and that is learning how to walk and ride a bicycle.  To me this is the foundation of what we need to be in supporting the process of youth sports. Encouragement and support are two key words in trying to become that ideal sport parent and actually it takes less effort to do it right than to be a nightmare for all of those involved.  Now, I must admit, I have had some very strong minded and competitive parents over the years and their daughters played the game at a high level.  On the other hand, I have had parents that you never know are around and supported their child in a different way but also achieved success in the game.  So what is the answer to this million-dollar question?

We all know that everyone is wired a little differently and much of what makes us tick as young adults and further is the way we are brought up by our parents.  Yes, the acorn does not fall too far from the tree and much of whom we are can be traced to our parents and up bringing, especially for the common traits of discipline, competitiveness, communication skills etc.  So basically, a great sport parent is nothing more than an extension of the parent at home… or it should be.

Great Sports Parents are:

  • Encouraging and Supportive
  • Allow their child to work through the process and find their own solutions
  • Attend as many games as possible but don’t freak out if you have to miss a game.
  • Stay positive even through the struggles
  • Project poise, control and confidence to these athletes
  • Know what is suitable to discuss with the coach such as mental and physical treatment of your child, seeking advice for your child’s improvement, or concerns about your child’s behavior in the team setting.
  • Great sport parents never discuss with the coach playing time, team strategy, or other members of the team other than their own child.
  • Know your role: Everyone at the game is a player, coach, an official or a spectator.  Some adults have a false impression that by being in a crowd, they become anonymous.  People behaving poorly cannot hide.  Here is a great clue: If your child seems embarrassed by you, clean up your act.
  • What can you provide to the organization to help make the experience a great one for the kids?  Whether it be transportation of equipment, providing snacks, meals, drinks for the players, or even feeding a machine during practice.
  • Be a great listener and encourager: When your child is ready to talk about the game, be all ears!  Provide answers that are mindful and avoid becoming a nightmare sport parent.  Above all, be positive and realistic.  Topics such as attitude, effort, and focus are productive topics much more that going 0-3, making an error, giving up a homerun etc.
  • Use these words often: “I love watching you play “


Until next time,


Coach Candrea