In the Stands

February 1, 2024

Here are five tips to channel that enthusiasm into positive reinforcement and support from the stands. It is important to cheer on our young athletes, but there may be some challenges as we transition from parent to spectator. Most importantly, remember to have fun because core memories are being built every day.

    Of course parents are supportive. You drive them all over, you pay their team fees, you wash their uniforms, and so much more. That support can make a difference in the athlete’s confidence level. Being supportive can also mean listening without necessarily offering advice when your child talks about practices, games and other aspects of their day. Sometimes they just want to share feelings or explain the coaches’ plan. Keep your interactions positive and help them learn from their experiences.
    Youth sport athletes are playing their sport, first and foremost, because it’s fun – it is an important part of youth sports. When a player is having fun, it shows on and off the court. It helps them work through adversity and overcome mistakes. Believe it or not, athletes can be having fun even while participating in intense, physically-demanding drills and competitions. Encourage them to follow their coach’s plan (even if you disagree), allow them to embrace their role on the team, and try not to coach from the stands or the car ride home.
    While we all love to yell and cheer, none of the youth-level games you watch are the Olympics. Athletes are all trying their best and their best may look different each day. It is not the end of the world if your team loses a game or tournament. There are a million more important memories and the outcome of a game is not one of them.
    Spectators love shouting instructions to athletes, even to professional athletes playing on the television. Remember that your child’s coach is helping them develop as a better player, both during the game and long into their future. The coach’s job is to guide, try to trust in their plan. Coaches are also looking out for the best interest of the team, and your child is one member of that team. Their goal is to not only win but to ensure that the players are learning and growing with the sport.
    Mistakes happen every day. Coaches often will say, it isn’t about the mistake but about how you react to it afterwards. Encourage your athlete to instantly brush off any feelings of embarrassment, learn from it, adjust as necessary, and get back in the game. The sooner they overcome an obstacle, the easier it will be to improve mentally and physically. To be successful on a team, athletes must develop the resiliency to learn from mistakes, and that always comes from a place of positive energy and determination.