We were watching some kids play some rec league soccer the other day and the seeming incessant chant from a group of nearby parents was, “Big Kick! Big Kick!” It seems that every other parent is a sideline coach and the message is not always helpful.
The actual coach stresses team play in his practices and pushes each player to make the most of his or her position. The parents in question were encouraging their little Johnny’s and Jane’s to engage in a sort of soccer/volleyball hybrid with a succession of cross field kicks going back and forth between the two teams. Maybe they should have let the coach coach.
We’ve all certainly seen the images of violence at youth sporting events so there is surely no need to discuss the importance of sportsmanship among the parents. Knute Rockne said, “One man practicing sportsmanship is better than fifty preaching it.” More important, perhaps, is discussing our role as parents and spectators.
We’ve talked before about the value of team sports. Team sports for kids builds character, promotes fair play, builds self-esteem, and creates character traits that children will carry into adulthood.
Be a booster! Celebrate victories and soothe losses. Encourage gracious losing and congratulate the things that went well on the pitch today. “You guys got in some great shots today!” or “you must have spent a lot of time practicing your passing! It really showed!”
Remember, the shouted encouragement to “run faster!” or “catch it!” can often have a discouraging effect. Your child is perhaps running as fast as he can and perhaps doesn’t yet have the hand/eye coordination to make the play you desire to see.
Most importantly, remember that you’ve chosen a “team” sport for your child. Your kid is a member of a group with other kids. Each of those kids has a parent who is a #1 fan. Those kids are playing against another group of like-minded kids with another group of rabid fan-parents. They all deserve our respect and our support.
Just maybe not our coaching help. Leave that for the Coach.