Our kids in sports: We love it; they love it, everyone loves it. Well, at least most of the time. We all know some kids don’t play fair, or bully the other kids and not just with playful chatter. The kids that make everyone upset. Then some parents can be just as bad. I have been a bad sports parent; I know how hard it can sometimes be. I am sure most of us have been less than great parents when it comes to our kids and sports at one time or another.


We all strive to be better parents and role models for our children. Here are some tips for being a better parent, role model and youth sports spectator.


Show Up

Showing up is the simplest thing to do for a kid. Children get it; you sometimes can’t make it. Children will be sad, but they can forget about once or twice. What they do not forget is never being there If you can only make half the games, that is even pushing it. You will later regret every goal you missed, and they will remember every goal you missed 20 years later and chances are it will come up. It came up with my father when I was 27 that he did not know we got knocked out of the playoffs for three days when I was 11. You can reschedule a meeting; you can catch up on work later. You can’t watch your child make the game-winning goal for the first time in his life.

Positively Encourage

There is encouragement, and there is positive encouragement. Support does not mean you have to praise everything right or wrong, good or bad. But, there is a positive way you can convey almost any message. When children make mistakes, this is not a time for belittling, but a time for advice. Children and adults alike can always benefit from counseling, telling them where you feel they made a mistake and how to work on fixing it can improve their game. Flared tempers and complaints solve nothing and fill the kid with anxiety and stress, making the game less enjoyable and making them less likely to perform at their best.

Teach Sportsmanship

Winning is not everything. There is a lot to be gained from losing. Defeat is a valuable lesson, and losing the right way, with honor and ethics is better than winning through cheap tricks. Winning and losing is sports helps prepare a child for life. As an adult, you win some, and you lose some. And sometimes losing well can be the right thing to do when it comes to sportsmanship. It is important they understand this concept.


Get Make A Scene

It can be frustrating watching people mess up. My son will not pay attention if his life depends on it. There can be a whole group of kids paying attention to the coach, and then there is mine, rolling around on the ground talking to the clouds. There are times when I feel a bit embarrassed when I want to tell him to knock it off. And I have. Then later that night I realize, he is there to have fun. My son didn’t look foolish by not paying attention; I looked foolish by getting upset at him enjoying a game. Whether they are doing it right or not does not matter, this is fun, and if they are having fun even doing things wrong, then they are doing it right. And if you are getting angry at your child or even the other adults for not doing things right, you are the one who not only looks foolish, but you are also depriving your child of the entire point of being there, and that is to have fun.

Push Too Hard

If we can’t say it enough, it bears repeating once again; youth sports are for the kids, not for you. Your child’s games are not your time to live vicariously through your high school when you got sick and could not make varsity tryouts. This is not your do-over. This is your child’s life and their fun game. If they want you to push them, that is one thing, encouraging them to do better is always a good thing. But driving too much is not. Too much creates anger, anxiety, and frustration making your child not want to play at all.


Youth sports is hard. Games are hard for both the parents and the kids. We both have our duties to be fun and fair, we both get frustrated, we both want to get angry. But at the end of the day, we are the adults; we are the example. The children, well, they should be good sports too, but at least they have an excuse. They are just kids. We don’t have that excuse.

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As an athlete, coach, parent, and sports psychology consultant with over 20 years experience in youth sports, I created BaxterSports camps to continue my work and provide a great environment for athletes to learn and grow in all aspects of life.

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