Sports Parenting content provided by Dan Saferstein from his book "Win or Lose: A Guide to Sports Parenting", published by The Trusted Guide Press. Visit DanSaferstein.com for more information.

 

ON BEING A GOOD "SPORT PARENT"

by Dan Saferstein

Find Coaches You Can Trust

The good thing about finding coaches you can trust is that you can then just sit back and enjoy watching your children play. You don’t have to bother telling them what they’re doing wrong or right. You don’t even have to remind your kids to tie their shoes. You only have to be willing to give up control.

This is the first step in letting your child grow up as a young athlete, and for many parents, it isn’t an easy step. A common fear of parents is that the coach won’t look for their child’s best interest and their confidence will be damaged in the process. In some cases, this fear is warranted, since there are coaches who put their win-loss records above the developmental needs of their young athletes. For this reason, it’s important to learn as much as you can about a coach before committing your child to his team.

However, there are also many fine coaches who can have a positive impact on your child’s athletic upbringing. You need to find these coaches and then give them the space to work with your child. You can’t limit your child by trying to be the only significant influence in their life, because there will come a time when they will need to learn something that you won’t be able to teach them. A great coach, like a great teacher, is a gift that your child will remember for their entire lifetime.

Appreciate the Time With Your Child

It is easy to take what we have for granted, easy to get caught up in the elitism of youth sports and find ourselves fretting over rankings and championships. We all can’t help but live vicariously through our children to some extent. We all are drawn to taste some of their glory. But we realize how small and secondary their athletic glory is when someone in our community suffers a tragic loss.

Natalia Reed-Lopez was a fourteen-year-old girl who played in the same soccer club as my daughter. She was hit by a car and died over the summer while her family was visiting in Spain. She and my daughter played on the same indoor team a few years back. I have a vivid memory of her coming off the field and being hugged by her mother. I can imagine just a little of what her parents must be going through, since I saw what my parents went through after my sister was hit by a car and killed in Jamaica.

At a recent tournament, Natalia’s teammates passed out “memorial cards,” explaining why they wore the number 17 on the sleeve of their jerseys. Natalia’s picture is on the card, along with the quote, “Siempre en nuestros corazones.” In Spanish, this means, “Always in our hearts.”

Dan Saferstein, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist, consulting with individuals, families, coaches and teams in his Ann Arbor-based practice. He is a contributing writer to Soccer Coaching International. You can contact him at dansaferstein@earthlink.net.