KIDS. . .SPORTS. . .COACHES and PARENTS
Marz 2009
Now that I am a former competitive athlete and my kids are starting fresh in the competitive world of sports, it has been an experience now being the parent and a spectator.  In an earlier blog that I posted about my Dad, I stated that he would come to every event possible but not once did he shout, scream or make a scene at the events. . .or at least I don't think that he did, Dad?  

Well, I didn't marry my Dad.  My husband is also a former competitive athlete.  He played high school and college football.  His scholarship sport was diving and he was crazy good at it! He was such a big guy, his head would come so close to that board, it would make me cringe at every meet I attended.  So, needless to say, we both come from the world of competitive sports, familiar with coaching and how our parents can effect the game.  

Right now, our youngest girl has been on a competitive soccer team that has won back to back championships 2 years running.  They were undefeated last year and came in first place within their age bracket, so needless to say, their coach knows what he is doing.  Right now, the girls have transitioned to bigger fields and with more players on the team.  It's been exciting to watch them grow and mature as players.  
One problem (I have noticed) though. . .parents coaching when the coaches are coaching.  Yes, we have been guilty for doing this! 

My husband gets just as excited at our girls events as he does a football game on TV.  He is one of those guys who shouts and jumps at all the plays like he is there on the pro-football field.  The same holds true for games as well.  Now there is nothing wrong with his passion for sports and I have been guilty as well but one day, I observed another team (our opponent) and how 1/2 the team's parents.  They were loud, brutal and ready to take on our girls themselves.  I sat back and wondered, WOW, do WE look like that? I also watched the girls on the field and the way it effected the way they played. The girls would look at the coach, then the parents and you could see their spirits just slowly melt throughout the game.  They were confused! Do I listen to my coach or my dad? Really? 

This last tournament was brutal for the girls.  They are experiencing tougher teams and the parents are JUST as bad.  Saying things to our girls when they play, the opponent's coaches calling our girls names and not their numbers.  It can be bad.  The girls have transitioned well to the larger fields but they have a lot to learn along the way.  Not only are the girls feeling it, so are the parents.  We have been spoiled for so long, this third year is a little nerve racking.  So, for some of the parents, their initial reaction is shouting, screaming and learning how to deal with disappointment from the players. 

My husband wants to be that Dad who is always there at the games because his dad was not.  I get it.  He wants to be involved and he wants to motivate his daughters to give it 110% every time they walk on that field.  I want to be that Mom who is always there no matter what. Having said that I am learning that I do NOT want my kid to look at my face when a call has been made and feel disappointed either.  As a youth leader and counselor, I have learned that these are the ages (7-14) where kids want to impress their parents and will do anything to make them happy.  As long as kids are moving in the right direction, who are we to put MORE pressure on them when the coaches are doing their jobs well?  
Artist: Nia B
I have also been on the other side where the coach has NOT done their job and you have to sit through a bad season of coaching.  That's another blog entry.  But if you have a coach that is taking his/her team to the finals and they are winning championships.  The coach is letting the kids have equal play time and believes in his/her team let them do their job.  Save the conversation with your kid AFTER the game.  Be supportive but not overbearing because you don't want to kill your kids spirit while they are on the field.  Consider your kids feelings and LISTEN!  Kids are a lot smarter than we think they are!

Here are some tips for that shouting parent:
1) Purchase lollipops, really THICK gum or sunflower seeds.  If they can keep their mouths occupied with stuff, it will stop them from shouting SO MUCH! (I bought myself sunflower seeds).
2)  If there is one parent that is louder than others, the manager of the team should make them assistant manager on the field.  Have them run errands like getting the team water or putting together something once the game starts.  Make them feel important and keep them busy.
3) This is a suggestion from another parent (LOL) tell them the game starts at 2:30 and not a 2:00 so that they can catch the last half of the game.  That one is kind of evil but effective for the extreme parent!
4) Last, intervention works EVERY TIME!
  
**This one is dedicated to all the great coaches out there and my favorite Coach Gatson.