What Is The Parent’s Role In Youth Sports And Where Do They Fail
Do you know the parent’s role in youth sports? Let’s find out the implications in child development.
In our journey of discovering the role of each member in the Youth Sports Triangle, we are focusing in this article on the parents, the support system of this dynamic. In the first part of these short series, we had a look at the coaches influence in the Youth Sports Triangle relationships.
So let’s dive in and discover what is the parent’s role in youth sports and where do they fail.
Parents probably have the most significant influence over their children, playing a crucial role in their child’s development. The quality of the coach-athlete relationship is dictated by their perceptions of and feelings towards the coach.
If parents feel a connection and understanding from the coach they are more likely to be complimentary towards them. Also, if parents give a positive perception of the coach, their children are inclined to show feelings of trust, closeness, commitment, and complementarity. This, in turn, will improve their confidence and motivation and ultimately, increase the possibility of them staying in youth sports.
More importantly, when the practice or championships are challenging and young players encounter stressful situations and experience failure, the support of their parents or the lack of it has the greatest impact on them.
Parents are the main support system for their young ones and look out for their child’s best interest. It’s understandable for being biased, seeing experiences only from their child’s perspective, and for accidentally neglecting the other children in the team. In the end, parents and coaches want what’s best for the child.
The Parent’s Role
The parent is the support system for their child and coach, in that order. Support involves providing transportation, encouragement, and communicating with the coach. Full support should be the heart of all of their actions.
Think of youth sports as a business: you as a parent are a member of the executive board. Parent support is so crucial to the Youth Sports Triangle that great coaching and child progress cannot happen without it.
A Parent’s Responsibility Is To:
- To support the child: Parents should make sure their child is always on time at practice. They should celebrate a big win and provide emotional support to their child when they fail.
- To support the coach: The parent should understand the coach’s vision, and discuss it during challenging times with their child. Identify the language the coach uses most often, and reinforce it at home. Understand that the coach and parent share the same goal: for the child’s success. But each group may try to achieve that goal differently. As a parent, your actions show your support. Speaking badly about their coach or encouraging gossip can harm the relationships from the Youth Sports Triangle. Parents with any kind of sport expertise should refrain from disagreeing with the coach’s decision. Your experience can be an asset to the coach, but they decide how to employ your skills.
- To address concerns by asking real questions: Inevitably, concerns will arise when you are the parent of a young athlete. They may vary, but they will come being too much at stake. It is the parent’s responsibility to address their concerns in an adult manner, by asking the right questions and taking control in a supporting role.
- To respect the coach’s communication medium: Respect the coach’s boundaries and work with his preferred medium for communication. Regardless if you don’t like sending emails and would have a phone conversation after work, remember that youth sports are not about the parent. If the coach isn’t receiving feedback, support them by setting up a medium for communication.
When The Disconnection Happen
A Parent Makes Mistakes When:
- They try to play the role of coach from the sidelines
Parents should refrain from coaching their child from the sideline in the middle of a game or discuss a child’s performance immediately after a loss.
But parents are encouraged to provide feedback and coach their child. However, think of your child and avoid doing it during games or on the way home. They are emotionally invested in the outcome. Initially, ask the child’s permission to discuss it, and start the discussion the next day.
This approach is important because children cannot internalize multiple corrective suggestions simultaneously, a characteristic of their development until they are around 16 years old.
So when the coach and the parent both shout out indications and nothing changes, it shouldn’t be a surprise.
And when the coach gets frustrated, and parents sit in the stands thinking to themselves, “What’s wrong with this child?” it’s because young players don’t have a mature, developed mindset.
And instead of worrying about their performance, they are embarrassed about being yelled at by people twice their size.
Youth sports are about meeting the athlete where they are at developmentally. Playing the role of the coach instead of the parent brings chaos.
- They pin it on unconditional love when making poor decisions.
Parents should handle their unconditional love when making decisions, focusing on being objective and rational. Don’t shield your kid from handling adversity on their own.
The coach and athlete should communicate without their parents interfering. Don’t speak for your child and encourage them to initiate the conversation, especially if it’s a tough one. You could support them through it by preparing for the discussion at home.
It’s an interesting approach because parents believe by doing this, will prevent their kids from experiencing pain. However, the action comes from a loving place.
Being objective, parents should be ready to show some “tough love” for their kids, or their children will miss out on the amazing opportunity of growth.
- They bring money into the equation.
Parents demonstrated they are ready to pay for high-end sports activities, and these figures are still increasing. Studies show that parents allocate $24,000 a year for youth sports. This is no small sum.
But youth sports has a market, just as any business. You can’t complain about your child not playing since every other parent paid the same amount of money.
Don’t allow money to cloud your judgment. Paying to play will buy you nothing more than a spot on the team.
- They focus on themselves.
We’ve all known a superstar dad that exaggerates, thinking Jr. will have an attempt at the big leagues like he never did.
For every sports enthusiast parent story you hear, there are thousands of adults remembering how an overzealous parent destroyed their sports experience.
This is how you determine if you’re exaggerating it with your child:
Who starts or turns the conversation more frequently about the sport your child plays: you or your child?
If they are just as invested as you are, the answer will be about around 50%. Anything more than 50% from the parent is an exaggeration.
There is a social dynamic between parents, children, and coaches that can enhance or destroy a child’s experience in youth sports.
The Youth Sports Triangle doesn’t function if the parents strive to coach, the coach takes an attempt at parenting, the parents do not consider the coach’s judgment, or the coach lacks empathy and communication skills.
The child is never held accountable if the system is faulty, even if they are royal troublemakers. Because youth sports is about children, not parents or coaches.
Youth sports are about building resilient and skilled kids and teaching them aptitudes they’ll use their whole life. Considering this, the stakes are high and the learning curve is abrupt.
Keep in mind that your actions will improve or ruin your child’s experience with sports.
You just need to recognize the duties of your role in the Relationship Triangle and perform as best as you can. Your children will handle the rest. If you want to find out how to better support your children in youth sports, check our project. Do you know where our children play?
We have organized a virtual fundraising event in May that emphasizes the importance of mental health in the sports culture. There will be a panel of experts who provide advice and guidance on how you can build a healthy relationship with your children. Your attendance at the fundraising event can play a small part in shaping your child’s life for the years to come. We hope to see you there!
More information at www.whereourchildrenplay.org!
(thank you to Andreea Purel for contributing to this article)
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