Parents who coach from the sidelines
Tips on how to be a better sporting parent.
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Parents attend their children’s sporting events with the best intention but can end up ruining the experience for their child when they become too involved.

*Jake is a 14 year old soccer player who is considering quitting the game, the sport he loves so much, because his dad simply does not sit back and enjoy the game. “He paces up and down the field and is constantly shouting about what I should be doing,” Jake explains. He says he feels constant pressure during his soccer matches and this affects his performance.

Parents enrol their kids in sports for many reasons, from skills development to teaching them about team work and sportsmanship. Attending a child’s sport fixture is a social event where the whole family attends in order to support the player and enjoy the game. The problem comes about when a parent becomes so consumed with their child winning that they coach from the sidelines, much to the detriment of the child and the game. Parents easily forget why they enrolled their child in sport in the first place. 

This so called ‘sideline coaching’ often involves yelling and shouting, sometimes even at the coaches or referees. The yelling parent’s intentions are well intended as it is aimed at wanting the child to perform to the best of their ability but it also tends to put the child under pressure and their ‘best ability’ gets lost in the process.

Rather than being that critical parent who coaches from the sidelines take a moment to enjoy the game in front of you and remind yourself why you are there, to support your child in the game they love to play.

Tips for less ‘sideline coaching’ and more ‘support offering’

  • Express your enthusiasm by supporting from the crowd and giving your child the thumbs up every now and then.
  • Allow your child to make mistakes as it will help in making them a better player.
  • Be supportive, no matter the match outcome – remember, it is not about you but your child.
  • Avoid getting into an analysis mode straight after the game, especially when it comes to your child's performance. Rather spend time talking about the match in general and in a light-hearted manner.
  • Show respect towards the coach and referees, even if you do not agree with them.
  • Have fun when watching the game as this will help put your child at ease, laugh with your child when reminiscing about moments of the game even if it was a loss.

Playing a match can be a pressurising experience for your child; they do not need the added pressure of having to worry about their mum or dad watching their every move from the sidelines with unpleasant commentary. Like Jake, they will consider quitting the sport as they no longer find pleasure in the game. 

By being less of a ‘sideline coach’ and more of a supportive parent your child will more than likely have more fun, learn important life lessons and stay involved in sport for a longer period. 

What kind of a sporting parent are you?

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