Attend as many games as possible. It means a lot to your child to have you in the stands supporting him/her. Time flies by quickly and your children grow up fast. Enjoy the days you can be there, they create lifelong memories.
Realize that your entrance to the contest is a privilege—not a right to attend. Your ticket is not a pass to verbally abuse officials and coaches. Be positive and support not only your child and his/her team but also both teams. Applaud good performances regardless of the group they represent. Be an exemplary role model and demonstrate good sportsmanship in every possible manner. Be an example for those around you. All signs should be appropriate. Only use cheers that support and uplift the teams involved.
Let those around you who are negative know they are not appreciated. Stand up for all the spectators, athletes, and officials. Let those who are obnoxious realize it is not okay and you will inform a school official if necessary.
Respect the calls made by the officials. Remember they are human too. Many sub-varsity level officials are new and still in the learning process. You should never question a judgment call made by an official and certainly don’t make a scene. Let the coach question any call that has to do with rules interpretation. Realize that officials are doing their best to help promote the athlete. Admire their willingness to participate in front of public crowds.
Learn the rules of the game. You will understand and better appreciate all aspects of the competition.
Watch the game with team goals in mind. A coach will do what is best for the team. When a group has a losing season many coaches will set team goals as an approach to achieve success. Your child is part of the whole team. Support his/her role in the group no matter how big or small. There is no “I” in Team.
Accept the outcome of the game; win with class, lose with dignity. Focus on the effort your child gave during the contest. Support what they did right. Let them know that mistakes are part of the learning process. If they learn from their mistakes they become winners in the end. Grow and move on. Do not get frustrated if your child is not playing well or the team is losing. Losing is part of competition and kids need to learn how to lose. Encourage athletes to keep their perspective of the contest, win or defeat.
Encourage your child to participate in more than one sport. Children need to be involved in lots of activities including team and individual sports. (The hours between 3-6 pm are critical.) The most important thing is not to push them into something they do not want to do just because you want them to. Respect their individual differences.
Refrain from using alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. The use of any of these substances on campus before, during, or after a contest is prohibited. Remember these are school-age children, not professional athletes. Tailgating on or near a school site should be nothing more than a barbeque. It is illegal to use controlled substances on school property. Your behavior is altered while you are under the influence. Be a good citizen and role model not only for your children but for others around you.
Bruce Brown, (2002) also offers the following comments and advice for parents to follow:
“All adults involved need to do their part and provide the athlete with the help and assistance he/she really needs to perform well. As such, parents need to address the following critical issues:
1. Ask their child questions about why they play, what their goals and roles are and then accept young athletes’ reasons as their own.
2. Once parents know their children are safe physically and emotionally they should release them to the experience (the game, the team and the coach).
3. During the game, parents should model poise and confidence and keep their focus on the team.
4. After the game, parents should give their children space and time and leave them alone.
5. Parents should be a confidence builder by maintaining a consistent perspective and not saying or doing anything that will have their children feel like their self-worth is tied to playing time or outcome of a game.
When parents stop and analyze the athletic experience for their own children, the reasons they want their kids to play sports involve providing an opportunity to develop physically, emotionally and to enjoy. The side benefits of playing sports include giving kids a good opportunity to learn how to work and get along with others, to take good risks in a public arena and survive, to learn to set and achieve goals by developing positive work habits, to learn how to succeed and fail with dignity, and to develop friendships outside the family unit that can last for a life time.”
As stated earlier student involvement in school sports lasts relatively a short while. The primary focus should be on character development. Closely related to this development is an emphasis on a student’s academic performance. Participation in athletics is a privilege in a kid’s life that hopefully leads them to developing into a well-rounded individual. It is the parent’s responsibility to remind their kids of this. We sometimes get lost in thought that our child is like no other and he/she possesses super human skills and will without a doubt be a professional athlete. The NCAA commercial states, “Most athletes go professional in something other than Sports.”
Every parent should make an effort to get to know their child’s coach. Most programs schedule pre-season athlete/coach/parent meetings where introductions, policies, procedures, rules, and expectations are addressed.
This is the ideal time for parents and coaches to make initial contact. This is the opportunity to address questions that the parent has in regards to the upcoming season. Both the parent and the coach are committed to bring the best out in the student athlete. The most productive environment in which a young person can improve occurs when the parent and the coach establish a mutual understanding of each other’s responsibilities.
Parents have the right to expect clear expectations from the coaches. Likewise, coaches will better communicate with parents when they are made aware of family concerns and the athlete’s medical issues. Obviously, if parents and coaches work toward these goals the student athlete will benefit the most.
Here are some examples of what a parent should expect from a coach:
- Participation policies and eligibility requirements.
- School athletic philosophy.
- Coach’s philosophy.
- Coaches should define expectations for your son or daughter as well as for all of the members of the team.
- Coaches should identify skills that are needed to achieve team membership; skills valued to earn playing time.
- Locations and times of practices, contests and meetings.
- Coach’s ending a practice on time and parents picking their child up on time respectfully.
- Team requirements, fees, lettering, special equipment needed, off-season conditioning, appropriate dress, mannerisms, and behavior when traveling.
- Procedure to follow should an injury occur during participation.
- Discipline matters that could result in the non-participation from practice or contests or dismissal of your son or daughter from the team.
As the season gets under way and contests have started, it is important that parents continue their rapport with the coach. Sometimes there are issues or concerns that can and should be discussed.
However, there are some issues that should be left to the discretion of the coach.
Here are a few:
- Playing time (Playing time is earned, not given on likes or dislikes)
- Team strategy
- Play calling
- Other student participants
- Confrontational issues
Some situations may require a conference between the parent and the coach. When the conference is initiated it is important that both parties have a clear understanding of the other’s position.
The following procedure and protocol should be used to help promote a resolution to the problem:
- Email the coach to set up an appointment
- Do not confront a coach during an event, immediately after an event or during practice.
- If the coach cannot be reached, or does not respond within 48 hours, call the athletic director.
If the parent-coach meeting does not reach a satisfactory resolution, call to make an appointment with the athletic director and/or principal. At this meeting, the parent, coach, athletic director, and or/principal will discuss the issue and try to reach an understanding.
Participation in school activities is one of the most accurate predictors of success later in life. Each extracurricular activity is a very important part of a student’s overall education. Students will learn work ethic, teamwork, sportsmanship, interpersonal relationships, responsibility, and persistence. These characteristics and traits help promote a successful life. The coaches and athletic administrators want students to have a very positive experience while participating in athletics in each school district. With parental help and positive support of the staff, the experience can be rewarding for everyone involved.