4 Truths That Will Radically Change Your Sports Parenting

You show up to your child’s game and sit down to enjoy the game and the beautiful day. Suddenly the serenity is pierced by the sound of a parent hollering instructions and calling out players by name.  Horrified, you realize that it’s you that’s bellowing from the sidelines. At that moment your child catches your eye and you realize that he is embarrassed and defeated. You sink down into your chair, determined to change your ways.

Sound familiar? Here are four truths that, if applied daily to your parenting perspective, will radically change your youth sports experience for the better. This change will trickle down to your young athlete, giving them a more positive and enjoyable season as well.

Truth #1: Your Child Can Play Youth Sports Without You.

In the “good old days,” kids used to play pickup games in the park, with little to no adult supervision. And the adults that were there, watched from a distance just to be sure that no one got hurt. Kids had fun, adults did adult things and everyone was happy.

My point is this: Your child is perfectly capable of having fun and playing sports without you!  However, in today’s youth sports culture, with its leagues, elite teams, and private coaches, the game no longer belongs to the kids. It belongs to adults, too. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to encourage competition and skill growth, but the lengths that some adults go to in order to control their child’s youth sports experience has turned it into a circus.

Let’s encourage the purity of the game, which is that youth sports is fun and should be all about the kids.

Truth #2: Your Child is Capable of More Than You Realize.

Isn’t it amazing what your kids can do when you don’t interfere? They are smarter and tougher than parents often give them credit for. And that strength only comes as parents let them work it out themselves. The more parents step in to fix things, the less resilient a child becomes.

Try it sometime. Back off and let your child figure it out by themselves. You will be amazed and proud of how they handle things. I’m not saying they won’t make mistakes. However, they will learn from them and work through them with the support—not the interference— from Mom and Dad.

Truth #3: One Season Will Not Determine Your Child’s Entire Athletic Journey.

If your child is in sports for the long haul, one season is not going to make or break them.

Last week I attended a high school basketball game and later learned that one of the starters got injured and is out for the season. He’s a sophomore, and will undoubtedly be back next season. He’s a good athlete and will not be defined by this one season of injury.


Even my son, who suffered a season-ending injury in his senior year of high school football, refused to let that define his athletic journey and was still able to play in college.

Perhaps your child has a rough season because of difficulty with a coach or teammates. When that happens, help them see that it’s only one season—although it seems like forever to them—and therefore only one link in the chain that is their youth sports journey.

Truth #4: Youth Sports Should Not Define Your Child’s Identity.

Youth sports is merely a means to an end, whether that end is a college scholarship or growing into a strong, responsible adult. Youth sports is not the end all, be all in life and it should not be the only thing that defines your child.

I like to make a distinction here between define and describe. Define means that your child only lives for, knows, and works for youth sports. Kids defined by their ability in youth sports are left devastated when they can no longer play because that was their whole world and it defined who they were.

On the other hand, if children describe themselves as athletes who play basketball or lacrosse, then they understand that competition is not their reason for living; it is merely something that they want to succeed in and love to do. When youth sports is over for them, the world does not end because they will find other things they love to do. They are a person apart from their sport.

So where are you when it comes to these truths?

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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