Sports Parents Make Mistakes, Too

Youth Sports Psychology

Mistakes in Sports Parents

Often, we receive emails from sports parents confessing they did the opposite of what we recommend in our programs and online tips.

Like their kids, they can be very hard on themselves. They focus on their mistakes and can’t seem to get their minds off them.

Today we want to stress: Everyone makes mistakes. The whole point is to learn from mistakes in sports—even if you’re a sports parent.

For example, one sports mom told us she was pretty loud on the sidelines and had a tendency to get upset easily during games. She didn’t understand that she was goofing up until her son told her that she embarrassed him, which hurt his confidence.

She tells us she learned from her mistake and took a step back from her son’s games. She even distanced herself physically from the games and sat at the top of the stands, instead of up close to the game.

The good news: Her son told her she embarrassed him, and she changed her behavior. She learned an important parenting lesson, and her son was able to enjoy sports more.

Even coaches tell us that they’re reformed yellers. One sports dad and coach told us that he yelled at his sports kids for years to motivate them to play well. But when a child pointed out the negatives, he realized he had to change. He was thankful to the child.

Sports parents and coaches, the best way to understand whether you’re making mistakes is to listen to the kids. If they look like or say your behavior hurts or embarrasses them, listen. Try something different.

If you’ve got the kind of young athletes who openly speak their minds, you’re fortunate, indeed. You don’t have to try to read their minds. You need only listen—and respond.

If you’ve got the kind of young athletes who are trying too hard to please you, you’ve got a more difficult task. They may not tell you they’re having a hard time with your behavior. They may even look like they’re having fun.

The key: watch carefully and listen. Ask questions. If you see a parent doing something that seems to upset her children, keep this in mind. That behavior might upset your kids, too.

If your kids tell you they’re upset with you, they’re doing you a favor. They’re communicating in ways that will help you overcome your mistakes and learn—likely in everyday life, as well as sports.

Always keep in mind: sports parents make mistakes. Like their kids, they need to move on and not dwell on mistakes. They need to learn from them and avoid being defensive.

What’s the best way to be a great sports parent?

Focus as much as possible on building confidence in your kids—not on ensuring they score the goal. Often, confidence leads to success in kids.

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The Ultimate Sports Parent

Every day, we receive letters from parents like you who want their children and teens to excel in sports. However, these parents can see fear, doubt, and frustration on the faces of their kids who struggle with the “inner” game of sports. But these parents have no idea how to help their kids overcome the worries, expectations and self-defeating thoughts that prevent their young athletes from feeling confident and successful.

You can benefit from our 15-plus years’ of work in sports psychology and sports parenting research. Now, you can tap into our secrets to sports success through a cutting-edge, 14-day program that helps young athletes overcome the top “mental game” challenges that sports parents face—and the top challenges young athletes face.

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