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Supporting Your Athlete

ADVICE TO SPORT PARENTS FROM ATHLETES

A multi sport coach for over 35 years Bruce Brown is now the Director of Proactive Coaching. Proactive Coaching is a U.S. organization that delivers workshops and presentations to athletes, coaches, volunteers, parents, administrators and teachers on a wide variety of sports related topics including: Leadership, Program Assessment, Raising a Confident Athlete and many more.


Following a series of workshops in 2009 Proactive Coaching compiled a list of what athletes would like to tell their parents. The athletes were asked two questions, “What do your parents do at games that really make you feel great and proud to have them present?” and “What do your parents or other parents do at games that make you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable?”

Here are their responses:


What do your parents do at games that really make you feel great and proud to have them present?

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• Cheer for everyone on the team, not just certain players
• Just having them there tells me it was worth my time
• Support us win or lose
• Not getting on refs, players or coaches
• Support me even when I am not playing much
• Cheering and encouraging at appropriate times in a civilized manner
• Cheer for us, but not too much
• Remember that we choose to play for fun and everybody is trying their best
• Don’t be too hard on your kid – give them room to grow, but stay by their side to help them grow


What do your parents or other parents do at games that make you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable?


• Argue with the ref – it is annoying for everyone
• Try to coach the coach
• Discouraging comments to players
• Yell at you when you are trying to concentrate
• Criticizing athletes or coaches, calling them by name
• Yelling advice makes me play worse
• Cheering if the other team makes a mistake
• When parents boo
• Telling me what I need to do better when they don’t know how to play the game
• I feel sorry for my teammates whose parents yell at them. When I play, my job is to listen to my coaches, not my parents.
• When they don’t agree with a call they yell “Come on!” or “What was that?” etc.
• Let me be who I am, let me enjoy myself out on the court, and don’t try and improve my game with your negativity


By being supportive, encouraging and present you are enhancing your child’s sport experience, so leave negative comments behind and let your kids have fun!

BALL PARK ETIQUETTE

The golden rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated”. It is an important rule and it should be applied in all environments, including the ball park. In sports competition it can be easy to get worked up, and lose your cool.  We all know that this behaviour is not acceptable, and that it is important to show respect for all individuals involved (coaches, players, officials and fans).  By maintaining an environment of mutual respect for everyone at the ball park, it will help to enhance the experience for everyone.

It is important to remember that many softball coaches, administrators and officials are there as volunteers, and they are volunteering their time because they love the game of softball. As parents it is important to show appreciation for these volunteers that are making it possible for your children to participate in a sport that they love. Your children will learn to respect and appreciate these volunteers, through you example. 

To avoid abusive behaviour at the ball park many associations have introduced a Code of Conduct, which reminds all parties involved to refrain from abusive behaviour towards players, coaches, officials and other fans. This is a good practice for all associations to adopt to make ball parks a positive atmosphere, where everyone can enjoy the sport of softball. If your association already has a Code of Conduct become familiar with it.  If your association has not developed a Code of Conduct yet, be proactive and develop one.

For more information on Codes of Conduct/Ball Park Etiquette please visit:

http://www.softballontario.ca/english/our-programs/house-league-services/resources.html

http://softball.bc.ca/umpires/530/code-of-conduct

http://www.fairplayinternational.org/fairplay/the-essence-of-fair-play

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT YOUR ATHLETE…

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  • Make sure that it is about your child, not the sport. Encourage them to play a sport they enjoy, and don’t force them to play if they don’t want to. The biggest reason kids want to play sports is to have fun, and establishing a pressure-free atmosphere is integral to kids enjoying the game and spending a lifetime being active.
  • Instead of just attending tournaments or important games, make sure to attend several games, ranging from not-so-important league games to championships. By supporting your child at several different types of games, they’ll see that each game is important, and there won’t be added pressure for bigger games.
  • When attending games, do not yell instructions or criticisms from the stands. This only embarrasses your child and adds to the pressure they feel. If your child needs some simple feedback, provide it calmly and clearly in a positive way. Tell her one or two things to do, not a list of things not to do. Kids can only handle a little information at once, so be clear and calm.
  • Focus on the fun of the game, developing skills, and participation, rather than specific achievements. The first question after a game should not be, “Did you win”, it should be, “How was it?” Children who are expected to win are often too anxious to do their best during a game, and may lose interest in sports because of a lack of fun.
  • Don't look for excuses for losing a game. Many parents think they are helping by finding blame in “uncontrollable factors” such as the weather, some lousy equipment, or a poor field. However, this attitude often backfires because kids fail to learn accountability for the outcome. These kids may never learn from their mistakes or try something new because they are quick to blame others for their short-comings. After a loss, don’t focus on the negatives – instead discuss what can be learned and how the outcome can be changed for next time.
  • Don't push your goals on your child. Many parents get into trouble by trying to seek out their own identity though their child's success. Remember that your child is a unique person with individual interests and goals, and allow him to define his own goals.
  • Encourage your child to set goals, and support them in pursuing said goals. This allows them to set goals for their own progress and achievement. Do not set your own goals for your child without discussing and mutually agreeing upon them first. A parent who is interested and encouraging, but not too serious or controlling, will allow the child to set their own goals and be accountable for their achievements.
  • Be enthusiastic and excited when your child succeeds. Allow them to express their feelings after a disappointing performance, but also help them see the positive side of the competition or focus on their efforts for the next practice or game. Teach your athletes to lose with dignity and win with grace – good sportsmanship is an extremely important concept.
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