3 Secrets to Being a Sensible Youth Sports Spectator

Through 22 years of being a sports mom and 29 years of being a coach’s wife, I’ve observed a lot of sideline behavior at games. I made my share of mistakes (yelled things to the officials I shouldn’t have, had bad attitudes towards coaches), so I know the downsides of these behaviors. They do more harm than good.

If you want to be seen as a sensible youth sports spectator, here are your secrets:

You Can Cheer Without Being Disruptive

If you’ve ever sat near a parent who screams and gets excited about every little thing their child does, you know how annoying it can be. Of course you should cheer for your kids when they score or make a good play. But if you are the parent who goes overboard, you are not only annoying parents around you—there’s a good chance you’re embarrassing your child too.

You Let the Coaches Do Their Jobs

When you sign your child up for a team, you are entrusting him or her to the leadership of the coaches. If you can’t do that wholeheartedly, it’s probably time to look for another team.

Sure, it’s appropriate to discuss ideas with your child if he or she asks for help, but those conversations should be at home, not from the bleachers during the game. Your kids need to focus on the game and on what their coach tells them to do; they do not need to hear you yelling instructions from the stands.

You Are a Positive Voice in the Stands

Your positive voice should be heard during the game as you cheer for the team, in your comments to officials and coaches and as you talk with other parents in the stands. It should also be heard when you think no one is listening, because they most likely are.

When my oldest played freshman volleyball, she did not start. At five feet and four inches, she was also not the most skilled volleyball player out there. In one match she was substituted into play, and one of the parents near me said quite loudly, “Oh no, what are you doing?”

I had to restrain myself not to immediately go over there and give him a piece of my mind. After the game, however, I confronted him about what he said. I’m sure he learned that day to be careful of his words because you never know who’s listening.

I understand that much of the time parents are merely venting frustration at their kids’ games. But the honest truth is your words and actions do matter, both to your young athlete and to other spectators. Stay positive, sit back and enjoy the game. If you do, the game will be more enjoyable for you, your child and for other parents around you.

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called jbmthinks.com. Her new book, 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents, is on Amazon.

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