Being a good sports parent can be hard. There are only so many hours in the day – both for you and your child – and it is often too easy to fall into bad habits when it comes to certain aspects of parenting. This is especially true regarding parenting in the sports arena, as sports feel much more optional than required tasks like school and work.
Luckily, we at Tackle Smart want you to be a good sports parent. Here is a cheat sheet that will ensure you and your kids get the most out of their sports, growing their level or play while also allowing you to connect as a family.
Make Sure You Are on Time
Being a good sports parent is about setting a good example for your child and putting them in the best position to succeed in their chosen sport(s). One easy way to do this is to work on your timeliness. Set a goal to be one of the first three parents to every game, practice, and event. Teach your kid the values your grandparents had, the ones that said being on time is late and therefore were 15 minutes early to everything.
You will be amazed how less stressed you are – and how the inevitable issues that would make you late are suddenly just making you be less early.
It’s important to start your child playing tackle football at the right age. The earlier you start, the more likely they are to enjoy it, and the earlier they get involved, the more likely they will want to keep playing when they’re older.
Make Sure Your Kids Get Their Rest
Sleep is massively important when it comes to peak performance. LeBron James – not a bad athlete to model yourself on – famously likes to sleep for 12 hours per day. Teammates throughout his career have noted that James is either sleeping, eating, or playing basketball.
While that amount of sleep isn’t feasible for people who aren’t pro athletes, your kid still needs sleep to be at the peak of their game, both physically and mentally. Get into routines for weekend games, keep them away from sugar and caffeine late in the day, and make sleep a priority when it comes to playing their best.
Your kid is involved in sports for several reasons, but one of them is likely to be the thrill of success and victory. We live in a world where this can sometimes be sanitized, but never be afraid to celebrate your kid’s sporting achievements. This could be something as simple as hitting a type of pitch they have struggled with, or it could be celebrating their worth as a teammate by throwing a great, unselfish block that led to a great play in a tackle football game. Make everything matter, both big and small.
Be There in Tough Times
Celebrating the wins is easy. Your job as a parent is much more difficult – and therefore much more important – in the tough times. These tough times can come in several different ways. Losses hurt, but most kids will learn to bounce back from even the most frustrating defeat with a little guidance. A parent is most important when their child gets injured and is out for an extended period. Missing games – or even a season – happens.
Being there for your child in the tough times as they come to grips with missing time and then helping them through their rehab and recovery is a huge part of being a good sporting parent.
Positivity Is Everything
Being a good sports parent through being positive teaches your kid another valuable life lesson. They are not always going to be perfect on the field, and there are times when their play will need critiquing to help them become a better player. Use this time to show them how to do so positively, bringing awareness to everything they are doing right and looking at the area they need to improve from a positive standpoint. Negativity will only make them feel bad and be counter-productive to why they want to play the sport in the first place.
Keep Them Accountable
This is another area where being positive makes you a better parent. Your kid needs to be accountable for their mistakes. Sports cannot be about glossing over errors and painting the walls with unicorns and rainbows. If it is a big, critical, game-changing mistake, then take it easy as your kid already knows they messed up. In those situations, it is fine to lean to the positive side to build them up.
We are talking here more about the small mistakes. Mistakes they might not think anything of, but that need correcting if they happen often. Holding your kid accountable while still having positive energy will help them become a better player and help them realize that small mistakes happen in life.
Make Sure Sports Are Fun
One of the biggest rules when it comes to being a good sports parent is to not live vicariously through your kids. You might be the most competitive parent out there, but sports are all about having fun for certain kids. Don’t be pushy, don’t have them playing one single sport day and night for 365 days a year, and let them learn why sports are so much fun.
Being a pushy parent will have the opposite effect. Your child will fall out of love with their sport and start seeing it as a chore. Suddenly, their one escape becomes more of the same daily life noise that they are looking to get away from. Encourage them to have fun and be creative in their sport; it will quickly become a lifelong love.
Separate Sport and Identity
A good sporting parent teaches their kids how to enjoy sports without them becoming their identity. If your kid is feeling the wins and losses to an uncomfortable level, show them how to treat sport so that a defeat doesn’t level the inconsolable for the rest of the weekend. Your kids aren’t getting paid to play, so sports should remain something they love without feeling like work. This is another life lesson that sports can help, showing them that the highs and lows can be ridden out by not taking it all too personally.
Educate Them on Sporting Values
Sports teach values. They teach kids to be respectful when they win and not lash out in anger when they lose. However, these are not natural feelings for children, so you have to work as a parent to instill those values into your kids.
The values like hard work, respect, humility, and being a good teammate are all sports-centric ideas that translate so well into everyday life. You may think you are working on being a good sports parent, but in reality, you are being an excellent life parent when you work with your kid from a young age to have the values that people will cherish as they grow.
Being a good sports parent does take work and effort. It is a role that will have its ups and downs, but the good will always outweigh the bad when you see your kid growing in confidence and becoming a better human in front of your eyes.
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