My View from the Sidelines— What I Have Learned From Youth Sports.


I love watching my sons play sports(football mostly)—there is nothing like it for me.  At times it can be bit stressful especially if we are playing a team with obnoxious parents.  We have just come off a game playing a team exactly like that. The parents were walking through our crowd yelling “We’re #1! We’re #1!” It still burns me—If only I had no dignity or conscience I might have given them a few choice words.   Most of the time  I try to stay calm (I am suppose to set an example right?) I am famous for afterward wishing I woulda, shoulda, coulda. However, I know my boys appreciate my tight lips.

“It is a fine line keeping everyone grounded in reality”

Throughout the years of youth sports,  I have seen many things on the sidelines, not just the classless parents of our recent opponents.  I have seen our own parents berate volunteer coaches, I have seen our parents not understand the skill set of their child (Size and speed do matter!),  I have seen coaches not put my son in to play, I have seen my boys cry after a loss, I have seen them cry after a win, I have seen it all—the beauty of it all. The sweaty, dirty, blood stained beauty of it all. Which always makes doing laundry interesting (Zout® and Resolve Gold® I worship you!). The lessons I have taken away have been invaluable to me and my sons. I have learned it is a fine line keeping everyone grounded in reality—kids,parents, and coaches too. As my husband says, “None of this really amounts to a hill of beans.” How right he is, I love that guy!

“Youth sports is a battlefield!”

As a personal rule I have always tried to let my guys stand on their own two feet.  I thankfully only had to get involved a couple of times when my middle son was never put in to play at all during several games (he was only 8 years old).  I was not proud of it though—I didn’t want to do it. Its hard to know when is the right time to complain and or the repercussions of being “that” parent.  I never asked for my son to be a QB or run the ball(that apparently is a big deal for some parents). The truth is my kids weren’t built for that so I kind of got off easy on that one. However, it seems in this day and age that life does not move slow, hang back and hold your tongue, and you are about guaranteed to be run over by a truck. Youth sports is a battlefield!  But you don’t have to let it be. Fostering good relationships takes a little bit of effort but it is worth it in the end. Your kid will appreciate it, the coach will appreciate it and thus the team benefits.

“I expect coaches to be partial to their own kid”

I have always had a real appreciation for all of our coaches knowing they are volunteering their time. I seriously don’t know how they do it. We have been fortunate in that most of our coaches have put the kids in the right positions and try to give adequate playing time. But there have been few coaches that are coaching strictly to highlight their own kid, win or lose. We all know who they are—everyone who has children in youth sports knows of at least one. And yes, that kid is usually in the QB position or a running back in football. The parents on the sidelines take notice of the preferential treatment and thus begins a season of sideline griping. In my opinion a coach’s kid must have the talent to back it up—no brainer right? Well unfortunately for some parent coaches it is not. However, I expect, yes I do, that the coaches be partial to their own kid. Why? Because it is alot of time and effort on their part. If I am so disgruntled then why am I not coaching instead of sitting on the sidelines?  It was always my philosophy that I don’t care where my son plays just as long as he plays. The rest is up to him—put forth the effort and the field is wide open!

 …kids must be coachable for petes sake!

 If you want your kid to be successful your kids must be coach-able for petes sake! Parents—quit badmouthing coaches around your kids, if you have an issue keep it from them. They will go through years of sports thinking every coach is out to get them and that it is someone elses fault they are not the star QB or running back.  As parents we must be realistic, understand our kids strength and push them in that direction.  They will be given chances to prove what they are capable of but they have to want it too. And they won’t if they think they have no chance. If you are having issues privately contact the coach with your concerns.  It will not benefit your child to discuss with him the issues you are having with his coaches.  A good rule of thumb is to wait 24 hours from the incident before contacting coaches with your concerns. If the coach is a good one—they will be completely open to hearing you out without giving you excuse after excuse for what they are doing. (I know that one from experience!)  There is nothing more sweet than seeing your kid overcome and be successful. Very sweet indeed!

Coaches—Motivate don’t denigrate!

Now don’t get me wrong—there are some coaches that just don’t get it; what it is all really about. Coaches we are talking about you being a part of shaping the lives of young boys into respectable young men. Show some respect!!! This lady is not a fan of constant panic yelling. The kids do not respond well to it and it leaves the parents feeling spiteful. I want to see a coach who has a passion for the sport and a passion for seeing each kid excel. Positivity is the key—the best teams we have been on have all been positively reinforced. No screaming at the kids about everything they did wrong for 20 minutes after the game. Motivate don’t denigrate! I am all for being tough but be tough with training them to be the best they can be.  There is a big difference. At this age they don’t hold on to a game… after a bad one all I have to do is take my kid for a burger and it is all but forgotten.

“Sports are suppose to be fun!”

We as parents must take time out to see the full scope of what sports are really about. Youth sports are not the end all.  The truth is maybe 1% of our youth athletes will get to a higher level.  I never think about my kids being professional athletes, if they do and it is their passion—awesome! But I want to know what their other interests are too.  I always tell my boys—sports are suppose to be fun —if it is not fun and you don’t enjoy it we will try something else. That is exactly what happened with baseball. We spent alot of time and money on travel baseball and realized we were doing it for the wrong reasons.  Neither of my sons enjoyed playing and as a result, we as parents didn’t enjoy watching.  It is hard to see your kids miserable even though they may have some skill at it.  And as a parent you  are thinking “I spent all this money, you better enjoy it!”   Ahh! It was a battle and it wasn’t worth fighting.  Now my kids both just do the sport they love more than anything, football,  and I have noticed such a difference in their confidence levels.  I have decided to scale back on pushing my kids to do sports back to back.  We as a family needed a break actually, time  together outside of youth sports. Truth is that the years are rolling by and special family moments outside of sports were becoming more rare.  I believe that what the kids honestly will remember more than sports is that family time.  A lesson I learned from years of playing back to back sports as a youth. I only remember a handful of those games and I believe it will be no different with them.




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