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Why You Should Cheer for Your Kid’s Coach

According to the National Council of Youth Sports, more than 41 million children participate in organized sports leagues across America. The vast majority of those leagues are filled with teams coached by volunteers.

Volunteer coaches are adults who love sports and enjoy working with and being around young people. They understand kids will make mistakes and even throw tantrums from time to time. What they don’t understand is why parents have to throw tantrums, too. From coast to coast, news reports show parents fighting, yelling and criticizing referees, players and coaches.

As a parent, you need to model sportsmanship to your child, and you can start by practicing three simple strategies at your child’s next sporting event:

  • Avoid negative talk about the coach (and others)
  • Ask what you can do to help
  • Thank the coach

Most coaches want to give their players a positive experience. That’s why it’s so important that you focus on what’s best about your child’s coach instead looking for negatives. Sometimes, this can be difficult when you’re surrounded by other parents who grumble, complain and constantly question or challenge a coach’s decisions. But this a perfect opportunity for you to be a positive role model, for your child, other players and other parents. 

How to Model Sportsmanship
It’s amazing how fast bleacher talk can turn bitter. One complaining onlooker can quickly infect everyone around him with feelings of anger, jealousy and ingratitude. After a few games, that kind of negative talk can become the norm at every game. You can help squelch the negativity by committing yourself to staying positive and modeling supportive, encouraging behaviors.

When others around you start complaining or disrespecting a coach, don’t fuel the fire by joining in. Stay quiet. If it continues, sit somewhere else – by other parents who are more positive or by yourself, if necessary. That might be enough to get noisy complainers to change their tone. If you feel the need to speak to a complainer personally, do it calmly and with respect. You might say something like this: 

Remember, we’re supposed to be role models for the kids. Let’s avoid any negative talk about the coaches and compete with character. Let’s be positive and encouraging.

You can model sportsmanship by making only positive and supportive comments or statements about the coach in front of players and other parents. Also, ask the coach what you can do to help create a positive experience for the team. You may be able to help run drills at practice, keep statistics during games, bring treats or drinks to share after a game, or host meals and fun activities for the team at your home.

Most importantly, tell the coach “Thank you!” And say it often. Make it a point to show your appreciation after every practice and game. Encourage your child to do the same. By practicing these three strategies – avoiding negative talk, helping out and saying thanks – you can teach your child a lifelong lesson about sportsmanship and competing with character. 

Learn more about modeling behavior in Competing with Character: Let's Put Sportmanship and Fun Back Into Youth Sports by Kevin Kush, M.A., with Michael Sterba, M.H.D.

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