There is perhaps nothing more rewarding than watching your son or daughter excel, whether it is in the classroom or on the field (or pool or court or wherever). However, there is a very fine line between being supportive and being too supportive. So below are a few tips to help you be a better sports dad and overall fan.
How to be a Better Sports Dad Tip #1: Let the Coaches Coach
There comes a point when your “support” is more of a distraction and a hindrance than actual support. This, unfortunately, is a fairly common occurrence with youth sports. It’s easy to get carried away when your child is involved. However, we, as sports dads, need to do better. Let the coaches coach. Let your son or daughter play. And just enjoy the ride.
“When you are on the field as an athlete, especially as a young athlete, the people you do not want to disappoint the most are your parents,” explains Texas Rangers skipper Jeff Banister. “And when a child hears a parent’s voice, especially one telling them what they’ve done incorrectly or need to do more of, it adds to the tension and the anxiety.”
Remember, you are not your child’s coach. You are your child’s father. Period.
How to be a Better Sports Dad Tip #2: Cheer (Don’t Coach) Loud and Proud
As Banister said above, children want to impress their parents, so the best thing you can do is show your support. Clap as loud as you can. Cheer until you lose your voice. But remember to keep it positive. You are there to cheer and show your support. You are not there to coach from the stands.
“When you’re there and you’re cheering and you’re clapping and lending support, their (your child’s) feeling is so much greater,” said Banister. “They’re going to compete harder. They’re going to focus. … When they hear the clapping they know they did something good.”
How to be a Better Sports Dad Tip #3: The End of the Game is not an Invitation to Start Coaching
Just because your child is not on the field does not mean your input – your critiques – are now acceptable.
“Sports is one of few places in a child’s life where a parent can say, ‘This is your thing,’ ” says Rob Miller of Proactive Coaching LLC. “Athletics is one of the best ways for young people to take risks and deal with failure because the consequences aren’t fatal, they aren’t permanent. We’re talking about a game. So they usually don’t want or need a parent to rescue them when something goes wrong.”
If your child approaches you, that is a different story. But until that time, keep your opinions to yourself. Often times what we think is helpful can be discouraging, especially after a tough loss or a bad individual game.
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