We’ve jumped into the beginning of a new school year, and that means the start of student sports seasons. The ritual of juggling practice and game schedules, making sure our athletes have the equipment they need, and doing loads (and loads!) of extra laundry begins. And so does the parental camaraderie in the stands and cheering on our kids’ teams through thick and thin.
Unfortunately, most sports parents have found themselves in the uncomfortable situation of witnessing rude behavior by another parent in the stands who has a disagreement with the coach’s strategy or decisions. We’re embarrassed for that parent, for their kid, and for the coaching staff. Those parents who think they know best—and make sure the coach knows it—clearly aren’t modeling good sportsmanship. But in more subtle ways, any of us sports parents can fail to foster good sportsmanship in ourselves and our own kids.
When I witnessed a classic display of rude behavior by a sports parent at a game, I started thinking about what other parental actions might really be frustrating to coaches. What bad lessons might we be teaching our kids—or good lessons we’re failing to teach them—that we don’t even realize?
So I interviewed coaches—and learned a lot about what sports parents and student athletes do that frustrate them. But the coaches also shared things we can do differently to help us as parents both model and teach good sportsmanship to our kids. Here are their top tips.