Five Parent Types That are Killing Youth Sports
By Guest Contributor, Jesse Rentfrow
As a father of four and having coached or played competitive sports for more than 35 years, I have worked with hundreds of great parents. But unfortunately, I’ve also come across my share of parents whose negative behavior can erode a team’s chemistry, create an atmosphere of tension and hyper-competitiveness, and can even cause kids to quit sports altogether. Here are the five most common parenting types that are killing youth sports.
Many sports parents are resorting to politicking to get their kids more playing time. They are constantly jockeying for position by ‘buying’ the coach’s favor with excessive spending ‘for the team’ or constantly attempting to get into the coach’s ear to influence the decision-making process. I have seen parents do this for various reasons, but it all boils down to trying to get their child more playing time. They are typically jealous of other players’ athletic ability and/or trying to cover up flaws in their own kid’s skill-set. The quality coaches ignore this behavior, and most can see it coming a mile away.
The parent who always blames others for mistakes and errors. This type of parent tends to deflect attention from their athlete’s faults onto other players. This behavior will divide a team so quickly they won’t even know what hit ‘em. When a dad/mom talks negatively about another kid, rest assured they are talking negatively about yours! Vomiting negativity about players, parents, and coaches will wreak havoc on a team from the inside out if you are a parent partaking in this behavior-DON’T! The best thing for parents and coaches to do is to stop this parent dead in their tracks. Please don’t allow this behavior to take root, or it will destroy a team. Simply say, ‘sorry, but we don’t do that on this team. We support each other and our coach’ and walk away.
Unfortunately, everyone knows a yeller. There is currently a shortage of umpires and referees because of this epidemic. Can umpires and referees sometimes do a poor job? Absolutely. Can we all do poorly at our jobs on any given day? Without a doubt. This does three things for athletes:
1. It gives them an excuse and a crutch when the game is rarely decided on one or two plays.
2. Blaming and yelling show that mistakes are not okay, even mistakes by the athletes like errors, turnovers, strikeouts, and more that happen to players throughout the course of a game.
3. It causes unneeded tension and ruins the enjoyment and fun of the game for all.
The Excuse Maker
Some parents will make various excuses for their kids’ performance and are happy to share this information with anyone and everyone. His/her kid makes a mistake, and excuses are given like lack of sleep, not eating properly, playing too many video games, and other reasons for poor performance. This behavior is rather annoying, but ultimately it is more apt to hurt their own child than the overall chemistry of a team. Unfortunately, this child might struggle with a ‘victim’ mentality or not learning accountability in all aspects of their lives, not just sports.
The Coach in The Stand
When parents coach from the stands, it sends the message to your child and the other athletes that they don’t believe in or trust the coach and the system. This is undermining the coach and confusing on the field for the players. There isn’t one player who has ever said, “My dad yelling at me from the stands really helped us win that game!” Our job as parents is to be positive and cheer the players on.
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These behaviors and types of parents make the game less fun for all of us and, most importantly, for our kids. If you see some of what I’ve described herein yourself, it’s not too late to make a change. Start today by acknowledging it; then become more self-aware and think before you open your mouth, “is this behavior helping anyone?” If not, don’t do it. It may take a while, and you may not get it perfect all the time, but eventually, it will become easier and easier.