Traits of a Model Youth Sports Parent

During my many years in youth team sports I've come across a majority of parents who care only about their children and have no interest in a team concept approach to coaching. It is always a derivative of "I only care my child's progress."

But what constitutes a model parent, who cares about the program rather than an individual.

Without naming generic traits, I will talk about my dad. My dad had the most positive attitude of any parent whose kids played sports. His first piece of advice when I decided to play little league baseball was always try your hardest and respect your coaches.

He supported me and every member of whatever team I played on. He never spoke disparagingly of coaches and taught all of us to compete and respect opponents. He always said I had to earn playing time and never interfered with the process, because it was about me and not him.

And he never once cared about whether we won or lost. It was about what I learned, always! He believed that skill development and maturity were the most aspects of my sport education.

Correct life lessons. Thanks Dad!


The Under-Involved Parent

There are two types of bad sports parenting—those who are over-involved and those who are under-involved. Much has been written in recent years about the over-involved parent, but very little about the under-involved. To be honest, I was not really mindful of the absentee sports parent until I had a recent conversation with a parent coach who got me thinking about this topic. In my opinion, this particular parent is the quintessential sports parent. He takes his five-year old son to the park as often as his son wants to, not as often as he the dad wants to, and spends the time teaching his son basic baseball fundamentals—how to catch, throw, and hit the ball.

This dad not only teaches these important and basic athletic skills, but he finds creative ways to make the experience engaging and exciting for his son, and you can tell that his son really enjoys the time he is spending with this father.

Recognizing who I was, this particular dad approached me at the park and asked me for my opinion on a baseball organization that runs instructional clinics for boys and girls ages 4-6, kind of like an introductory baseball class for little ones. His neighbors and other teammates pay for this service, and the dad wondered if he should enroll his son in the program.

Though I have yet to hear anything bad about this particular organization, I think it is rather a sad state of events that parents are willing to pay someone else to teach their child the basic fundamentals of catching, hitting, and throwing. I told this particular father, why pay for something that you are already providing for your child.

Ultimately, it is the parent’s responsibility to be involved and teach basic athletic fundamentals. It is as simple as going to the backyard or to the park and playing a game of catch. Not only are you as a parent teaching your child basic athletic skills, but you are more importantly creating a bond with your child that no private instructor, camp counselor, or any other independent third party for that matter can replace.

As a parent, it is so important to be present. Your child will be adversely affected if you are not. Instead of dropping your child off at the field on game day and racing off to the health club, or socializing in the stands, pay attention to the game. Appropriately cheer for your child and his/her teammates. Find out from his/her coaches what skills need to be practiced further.

Consistently set aside time to work on any athletic deficiencies your child may have. If you are unsure of what to do, go to your local bookstore or consult reputable internet sites to get training information. Utilize private trainers and baseball facilities only when your child becomes more advanced athletically.

The bond that you can create with your child through athletic is irreplaceable. Please do not waste this precious opportunity. You can create memories at a young age that your child will never forget.