Mar 102014


When we teach our kids a team sport – there are really TWO LESSONS happening. There is the sport – and then there are the deeper, truer, lessons. Lessons like how to be part of a team – how to win with class and lose with grace – how to show up, take risks, fall down, get back up, and how to treat friends and adversaries. Like my husband says, very few of his players will ever play professional sports – but all of them will become citizens. And so what Craig is really trying to do as the kids’ coach is to USE SOCCER to teach kids how to be brave, kind and happy citizens.

Keeping that end goal in mind, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Please respect your kid’s courage. Be in AWE of her. Look at what she’s doing! She’s out there on a big field in front of screaming adult spectators trying something new and scary and taking huge public risks. Can you imagine the COURAGE that takes a small child? Can you imagine how scary that would be for YOU? Have some reverence for every kid out there, especially yours.  Don’t wait till she scores ten goals to be proud of her. Tell her after every game that she was so brave and that you couldn’t be prouder of her –  because life is about showing up, trying, being kind, resting, and then trying again. And that’s what she’s doing. So no matter how she plays – hug her and tell her, YES, brave sister! Well done!
  2. Don’t trash talk the coach. If you have questions about his methods or vision – call him up and ask to talk – person to person. Be a grown-up about it because the way you handle your concerns teaches your child how a good citizen deals with conflict. Again – we are not just trying to win soccer championships here – we are doing something INFINITELY MORE IMPORTANT – we are shaping hearts and minds. So behave the way you’d like your child to behave. If you must complain about the coach – maybe don’t do it on the sidelines. Likely, his wife is sitting right next to you. It’s awkward. Also – and I wish this went without saying but my experience over the past few seasons has taught me otherwise – never, ever trash talk any player on the field, from either team. The number of exceptions to this rule is zero exceptions. They are children. You are a grown up. That is all.
  3. Before yelling out directions to individual players during the game: please look down at your shirt first. If your shirt says the word “Coach” on it:  Yes! Go for it! Yell away! But if your shirt does NOT say “Coach:” shhhhhhhh. All the yelling confuses the players –  they can’t hear the coach, and so they’re trying to PLEASE YOU instead of learning to PLAY SOCCER. For that one hour: you are not the boss of them. Sit back and enjoy it! And don’t worry – most of the directions you’re calling out like: GET THE BALL! and FASTER! – are unnecessary, really. The kids might not know much, but they definitely know they’re supposed to run fast and try to get the ball. They’re trying. It’s just that they’re kids and sports are hard. So give them some time to think and to listen for their coach instead of just constantly reacting to you. On Saturday mornings you are not the athlete and you are not the coach. You are a parent. So just parent – just be a loving, supportive, encouraging cheer-er on-er.
  4. If you need to make or take a quick call on your phone – go for it! If you need to have a twenty minute business or personal call –  maybe step away from the sideline. This is a really special time for many parents and we’re trying to take it all in. Signal that you think this time is special too by removing yourself if you have business to tend to.
  5. Consider displaying appreciation for the other team. The big difference between THEM and US is that their names got placed on one roster while our kids’ name got placed on another. So, no difference. When trying to have compassion for both teams it’s helpful to remember that most of these players JUST GOT BORN during the past decade. They’re little. So we should be kind to all of them, not just the ones wearing the same color as our kid. I always pretend that a dear friend with a kid on the other team is sitting beside me. If I wouldn’t say it with her there, I don’t say it at all.
  6. Ask your child how she’d like you to cheer for her. My son likes me to be really quiet on the sideline. Tish likes me to call out her name a few times per game, but not too much. Amma wants me to cheer for everyone throughout the entire game as loudly and often as humanly possible. I LOVE AMMA’S GAMES THE BEST BECAUSE I AM NATURALLY A CRAZY CHEERER. But I respect all my kids’ wishes. One player on Craig’s team last year always wanted to play defense. When Craig asked him about this he said he was “afraid to score” because he knew his very vocal (and precious) dad would go crazy with loud pride and this kid was just too shy to handle that. He was afraid to tell his dad though, so he played beneath his ability all season. Find out what your kid needs from you on the sideline. Remember that you are there FOR your child, not the other way around. She’s not performing for you, you are supporting her.
  7. Consider broadening your definitions of “wins” and “losses.” Last season several parents became upset because Craig was playing everyone instead of just the “best players.” These parents insisted that Craig was “hurting their chances to win.” And Craig had to explain that at this age- his goals for the game were as follows:  Everyone stays safe. Everyone plays. Everyone receives both praise and direction from him at least once. Everyone shows excellent sportsmanship. Everyone’s smiling. That’s a win for him. With the younger kids- Craig usually can’t remember what the score was- but he can always tell you who worked on her shooting and who helped up a player from the other team and who played keeper even though she was really scared. Victory, victory, VICTORY!
  8. Your kid, more than anything wants to HAVE FUN and MAKE YOU PROUD. Please, please teach her that she can do both at the same time. Most of these kids just want to pull on their cool shin guards, pump their little legs up and down the field, test out their courage, and eat orange slices with their friends.  Let them have that. They have the rest of their lives to compete and worry and strive and fret. Let’s let them be kids and be free for now. Let’s teach them that the victory is in SHOWING UP AND TAKING A RISK, not in the outcome.
  9. Win or Lose – thank your coach. In front of the kids, shake the coach’s hand and say “Good Game, Coach.”  He deserves your public, sincere thanks because he works hard and loves your kid. And you never know his story. He could even be a former professional soccer player who learned during his twenty-five year soccer career that the best thing sports have to offer is CHARACTER BUILDING. And so what he’s doing is more important than winning. He’s BUILDING. He’s helping to BUILD YOUR KID. Thank him for it.

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  116 Responses to “How to Watch Your Kid’s Game Without Being a Jerk”

  1. Hi G! I don’t know if you check comments on posts this old, but if you do, I have a story I know you’ll love! I’m a children’s case manager for a local community mental health center. One of my clients is a great athlete, but struggles at school and was acting out pretty significantly at home. He has a freaking amazing mother, so at a school team meeting the team was trying to figure out how to support them both. The math teacher, who also happens to be the basketball coach, looked at this youth and told him that while he appreciates his skills on the court, he is more invested in him being a good person. He said that the sportsmanship skills he teaches him in basketball are to be practiced at home as well. After an equally compassionate talk from the amazing English teacher on the team we came up with a plan. That plan was that participation in basketball would be contingent on both him trying his best in school AND him being more respectful of his mom and other family members at home. Meetings like that are why I LOVE both my job and teachers!
    I’ve been catching up on your blog, from the beginning, for a few weeks now and I freaking love it! Thank you!

  2. Thank you so much for this. My daughter is just getting into sports for the very first time, and this article was so helpful : )

  3. So, I read this blog post and am hoping someone will speak to a coaching issue our family is having. I want to handle this with truth and love but am having a hard time. We have two boys and, in May, we joined a very well respected soccer club (travel soccer). My 8th grader joined as a ‘developing’ player because the coach didn’t think he was up to the team’s level. We were pleased with the coaching as he improved in a short period of time and was surprisingly added to the roster for the first two games. After the first game (my son played for 5 minutes of the 3rd quarter and the team lost 3-0) our son told us the coach pulled him aside (good) and screamed at him using multiple expletives including the F-bomb (bad). The team, of course, heard the rant and when our son came back to the bench his team told him to shake it off, it happens to everyone. After the second game, that they won, the coach berated the team with multiple expletives again. Our son played the entire second half and with no kind words on his much improved performance. I have been told by many (men) that we should not approach the coach because he will take it out on my son. The team has a code of conduct prohibiting this behavior with strict penalties for offenders. I feel damned if I do and damned if I don’t. What to do? By the way, this is a paid coaching job not volunteer and this coach’s full-time job is coaching girls high school soccer at a Christian school. Help! My younger son is so happy with his team and my older son is otherwise happy with the experience. I feel at a loss.

    • How does your son feel about staying on the team? Bottom line is, you know what is best for your child. And no one with any common sense and love for kids & understanding of their development can reasonably argue that this kind of treatment is good for any kid. I’d have my kid off that team so fast (I know, difficult thing to do), and file complaints all up the line. But then again, I am the type to call out injustices such as this & worry about the consequences later. What’s right is right. However, I realize this approach is not for everyone.

  4. Thank you so much for this!

  5. Good article, but you should add an item for setting an example by respecting the referees. Most referees in our youth soccer league are middle school aged kids, they’re from your community, and they’re learning like everyone else.

    They tend to get 95% – 98% of the calls right, and are never thanked, but they sure get an earful when they get a call wrong, and sometimes the comments from parents are downright nasty and mean. SHAME!

    I’ve refereed scrimmages before in multiple sports (including many in soccer), and it’s impossible to get every single call right. Sometimes you’re paying particular attention to an aggressive player, or you look back to see if a player is offsides, and you miss a handball or who should get the throw in.

    Incorrect calls go both ways, sometimes they’re to your teams benefit, sometimes it’s to your teams detriment. But either way, they almost never affect the outcome of the game. Even if they did, it’s a youth *GAME*.

    I have coached soccer at the rec and academy levels for more than a decade, and I have a rule that we never, ever, criticize the referees or her calls, no matter what. This applies to the parents and players. If there is a serious referee issue, I will have a private and respectful conversation with the referee for rule clarification, etc., and point out my observations, but that’s as far as I’ve ever had to take it.

    I also ask the referees to wait at midfield after every game so that the players can fist-bump them and thank them for refereeing the game.

  6. Thanks for writing and posting this piece. We are heading into our 2nd T-ball season this spring and this puts things into the best perspective. Have a great day, N

  7. Number seven reminds me of a terrific story the poet and Rumi translator Coleman Barks told at a performance I saw a few years back. His very young granddaughter was on the losing side of a soccer game, after which a kid from the winning team ran over to chant, “WE WON! WE WON! WE WON!” To which she replied, with equal triumph and volume, “WE LOST! WE LOST! WE LOST!”

    Mr. Barks said it confused the other child speechless. Victory is all in how you spin it.

  8. I am seriously considering printing this off and hanging it in the break room at work. Having to listen to coworkers trash-talk KIDS is the most ludicrous thing ever. I love this. Thank you for putting it in perspective!

    I hope that when my daughter is old enough to play sports, she has a coach as wonderful as your husband sounds to be. Character-building. Love.

  9. I’d add in “be on time” and let the coach know if you will be at the practice/game or not. I’ve coached for 6 years and can’t tell you how old it gets to not know how many boys will show up, or WHO of those boys will show up. Not to mention the chronic 10 minutes late families — both at dropoff AND pickup.

    Respect my family’s time too — be on time

  10. Hey Glennon — I looooved this. I was an AYSO Girls Under 10 soccer referee. I never had to yellow card a child, but I did have to yellow card a few parents and one coach in the four years I reffed. Lighten up, people!

  11. I think something else that should be added is a part about respecting the referee’s decisions. Coming from a referee of 4 years now, I get yelled at all the time pretty much (I never let it faze me). You can disagree with a decision, but you don’t have to announce it to the whole world. Refereeing is a hard job that requires a lot and normally doesn’t pay that much (Depending where you’re from). It’s very satisfying when a coach or parent comes up to you after the game and tells you “Good job” or “Thanks!”.

  12. Just one more thing: Thank the ref too. It’s a terrible job, and games need them. Not only that, but kids need to be taught to respect them as well.

  13. I really enjoyed this article and linked to it on my youth sports blog. Its a great reminder for all us parents on how to behave when we are the spectators.

  14. Great Post! As a youth director at a soccer club this is the ideal message all families should hear. This will be sent out to all club members at Storm Soccer Academy. Thanks for Sharing!

  15. Thank you so much for beautifully explaining what we parents should be doing during our kids’ performances. You’re 100% right: it’s not about US; it’s about THEM. Like our kids, we parents are also works in progress, and there’s always room for improvement. I appreciate the reminders to do better!

  16. The only words your kid needs to hear before the game: “Have fun, do your best, I love you!” The only words your kid needs to hear after the game: “I love to watch you play!”

  17. First let me say that I am a male. I know you are asking why is a male reading this woman dominated blog/webpage. I will say that this blog was posted on a Facebook on a FB friend and wanting to the best coach I can be, I took a risk in reading it.

    I have had the great fortune to be able to coach a few of the activities (about half, by design) that my 2 kids (5,9) have participated in. And, I think your article is 100% SPOT ON. For any of the parents that have been on my teams, hopefully they know that these philosophies are the exact ones that I coach to and ask the parents to adhere to. I appreciate you pulling them together and posting them in a concise honest format. I will use this for every intro meeting/correspondence I have in the future.

    The one thing I would add (not change or replace) is that in #2, I have a 24 rule. As a coach I tell my parents that I reserve the right to not respond to a grievance that is sent my direction (through phone call/text/email/facebook/eyeball to eyeball) within 24 hours of the occurrence.

    This is for a few reasons. #1, it gives me a chance to reflect on the activity without parents screaming at me. Sometime I admit to parents that I screwed up in my decisions. I want the ability to self-reflect being questioned. #2, this gives the parents time to clearly think through what their actual grievance is. Usually what I have found is that the parents gripe is more about how the parents felt about my decision, not how the kids felt. And, like I tell them, I do not volunteer to make the parents feel good. My job is to coach the kids. If they need self-esteem help, go see a counselor. And I have, unfortunately, had to tell a parent that before. Sad, but true. #3, if I don’t pick up the mistake and it is a legitimate mistake that I made as a coach, this allows the parent and I to discuss it without emotions- which allows us to come to an understanding easier, I think.

    Long response short. Thank you for publishing this!

    • The 24 hour rule is essential at all youth levels (and all sports). It allows for both reflection and respect, for both coaches and parents.

  18. I like everything said in this article, but I don’t believe this addresses the bigger issue at hand with kids’ sports, the dirty pool that goes on behind the scenes. The handpicked teams in recreational leagues, the kids who are told to “play poorly” at tryouts so that they go lower in drafts and coaches secretly build a better team, the parents who play politics to give their kids an edge. Youth sports is an ugly business. My kids play sports, but they do it at recess and in the neighborhood with friends. They have fun and learn more doing what comes naturally.

  19. My dh is a little league umpire. The kids & I can’t even go to the games because the other parents curse and shout at ME if they don’t like a call he made etc. He has done it for many years & is patient and fair but like most folks isn’t perfect. As long as your team is winning you love him lol. They do get paid but not enough to justify the treatment they relieve. I am embarrassed at the way grown adults behave & that they pass this behavior on to their children. I remember a “lady” he eventually had to have removed from the ball field after warning her many times for cursing & berating her son whenever he missed the ball. He was a backcatcher, maybe 8 or 9 years old. He left several games in tears & lost his previous love of the game because of her. What is wrong with people???

  20. “Remember that you are there FOR your child, not the other way around. She’s not performing for you, you are supporting her.”

    Glennon – I will be quoting you on this. I hope that’s okay. This applies to EVERYTHING our kids do, not just athletics. I needed the reminder. I’m sure others do too.

  21. As we drive home after games, the only comment I make to my kids is “I enjoyed watching you play!”.

  22. Glennon! Thank you, thank you and thank you. This post is not only beautifully written but says everything that coaches and parents should be living by. My husband and I created our company three years ago- The Small Sports ( – your post is everything we believe is missing in most youth sports today. Kids are being pushed into competitive sports at such a young age- when they should be playing sports to have FUN, learning the basics about teamwork and good sportsmanship, respecting coaches and officials and how to win and lose gracefully. We are raising little people, not little professional athletes! More times than not, it’s the adults who need the lessons in good sportsmanship. I love your writing, G- felt compelled to comment since this particular subject is so important to us. Thank you! xo

  23. I love that you ask your kids how they want to be cheered for. One of my favorite quotations is, “Don’t do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We all have different tastes.” Your kids are lucky to have such a supportive mom!

    • I’m with Heather – what a wonderful thing to do! I have trouble actually cheering for my cross-country running, track running, pole vaulter. I don’t even know where to begin and hate making any noise in public – but I’m so so so proud of her that I do my best. But I would ABSOLUTELY be that kid you mentioned that would be afraid to score. Bravo for thinking of it from this angle!

  24. Great article and thread, really good stuff. It’s hard sometimes to keep perspective, but as adults that’s our responsibility. It’s one thing to cheer energetically and display enthusiasm for those that are competing, and quite another to behave obnoxiously and scream play by play. “Run!”, “Kick it in the goal!”, “Get the ball!”, Beat ’em!”
    Let them play. Let the coach do what he’s commited to doing. If you can do it better, then volunteer! I made the mistake with my first son. The car ride home after a loss. He played particularly poorly that day. By the time we got home he was in tears and my wife let me have it. And I deserved it. By that night, I was practically in tears. “What are we doing?” “What’s our goal here?”
    Never again. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the insight until I went through that. Hope fully someone will listen to the lessons in this article. We want to develop and teach our kids, not traumatize them. If you don’t let them have fun your not accomplishing anything.

    • We all make mistakes as parents and I am touched by the way you describe reflecting on yours. Our kids learn too when they see us change our own parenting behaviour for the better. Yes!

  25. I really enjoyed this article and agree 100%. However, as a woman, mother of three and full-time coach I have to point out that you have eliminated the fact that the coach can be a woman. We are not just on the sidelines cheering. We are on the field teaching the sport and more importantly sharing values that will last a lifetime.

  26. This is why my kids don’t play soccer. This is such an unbelievably over simplified piece it makes me sad. Think about this ridiculous piece in terms of adolescence and adulthood. It’s laughable. And while I know the natural response is that they are “just kids”, these kids grow up to be adults and have to deal with life and reality. You aren’t shaping great future citizens, you’re shaping children to think that they are all the same and they will all have the same chance and advantages no matter what. It’s not reality. I’ve coached 18 teams in baseball, football and basketball and the real reality is that we have to teach kids to be their best at whatever it is they are trying and working for and sometimes their best isn’t always good enough. As adults, we have to then teach them to be the best they can be but also prep them for the fact that maybe sports isn’t their path, and that’s perfectly fine. We have a responsibility as adults to not BS the kids, but be honest with them and help them be the best they can be at whatever it is. If you are not playing in competetive sports, then maybe this is fine, but if you keep score, then learning to win and lose is important. I could break each of these “points down 1 by 1, but frankly it’s so simple it’s not worth the time. I will address one point…our kids want us to be proud of them. I couldn’t agree more! But also as parents we have to be honest and realize that they know if they are good, bad or average, and that’s fine any way. As a coach it is our responsibility to make sure we do what’s right by the team, NOT the individual who may or may not be a great player. Most great players work very hard to get there and so do the parents. Those kids that work harder deserve better results. If there’s a player that could be great but doesn’t get enough practice, then as coaches we have a responsibility to work with them and make them better. I can only imagine how many people will read this and think I’m one of the over the top youth coaches that you hate, but yet if you were only honest with yourself and with the kids you coach, you’d realize that pretending all things are the same is to the long term determant of the kids. I’d also be more than happy to have an intelligent conversation about this topic if anyone agrees or disagrees.

    • Amen Mike, Thank you for writing that. I could not agree with you more.

      • I am so glad my daughter was only coached by one person like you.
        The article was spot on about many things especially the parts about kids being kids.
        Your attitude is so rampant in all of sports and really makes me ill to think of the hundreds of kids you have damaged.
        The kids have plenty of time to realize and feel the hardness of life and for anyone that you have coached learns it much earlier than needed.
        Sad man

    • Mike, why your kids don’t play soccer? It’s a very good game, teaching our kids about the team work and working hard for a success. For the better self esteem, your kids need to be athletic. My son loves to play and he is a very smart to just ignore us cheering for him. Don’t underestimate your kids IQ, sometimes they know what they want and you’re can’t mess them up.

    • I am going to respectfully disagree here. First I believe Glennon’s article is referring more towards non competitive sports where kids are young, trying something new and playing for the fun of it and parents often make it not fun when they are acting like its more than it is, which is a (insert age here) year old soccer game! As far as you worrying that they are not learning “real life” lessons and teaching kids they are all the same, you are greatly underestimating kids. My kids played recreational and now play competitive soccer and they KNOW who is better than they are and who is a naturally gifted athlete, who is not going to make it as the kids get bigger, stronger, more aggressive. It has taught them they need to try harder, train longer, play with more finesse, if they want to compete at this level and when it is no longer fun for them to compete THEY will do something else and take the lessons they learned about soccer AND being a good person (winning and losing graciously, hard work and tenacity pays off, being coachable, teamwork, friendship, sportsmanship,etc) them into adolescence and adulthood. All of which they learned without me being a jerk on the sideline which is what this article is about. If you think it’s your job to be “honest” with a kid and dictate their potential for them then maybe you should not be their coach and if you are not taking the opportunities as a coach to build better people, not just better athletes then you are missing out and that is simple.

    • Mike, you’re an idiot! You really didn’t get the point. I own a very successful soccer club where we do happen to win state championships. We care about building character. From the 18 teams you have coached (you must be a miracle, being able to teach all those sports the proper way) I guess we have 50 players in the NHL, MLB and NBA. Thanks for building our professional system! It is the kids playing the game, not the parents. Shut up and watch the kids play. Parents like you are a poison to society and I am very very very happy your kids don’t play soccer. Thanks for sparing us your presence at soccer field all across the country!

    • Herein lies the problem Mike. You are wrong. When we are talking about team sports like this, there is no one that you cannot find a position they are good enough at, unless you are a bad coach. I personally took on the team of misfits in little league in my community. The bad news bears per se. There were a couple of really gifted athletes, many average kids and a few kids that had no idea about how the game was even played.
      We practiced 3 days a week, we practiced the fundamentals, and EVERYONE played the same amount in games. The first year we were exactly as you would think we would be, the second year we surprised a lot of people, including the parents who thought I was coaching wrong and by the third year, we won the league championship. All with the same players. They all knew what to do when they got the ball, no one tried to throw that runner out at home, they hit the cutoff man and let the on field general make the call on where the relay went. They learned to play as a team and they knew everyone had a role on that team. There were no stars, they were all stars by the end. They all wore their jerseys together to school on game days, and whether they were the best player in the league or the one with the lowest batting average, they hung together and stuck together as a team. It’s people like you who want to create a hierarchy on a team that is the problem with what kids today are turning into. That’s why Rasheed Mendenall just retired at 26. He said the game is turning into entertainment instead of the game. Its about the stars, the shows, the celebrations after the Home runs/Touchdowns, and the disrespect you can show for the opposing team. Its a freaking game! How could it be (as you put it) not the correct path for a kid. I believe if you feel the way you do, then coaching is certainly not the correct path for you. If you have kids that work harder than others then you are definitely doing something wrong, as my kids did all things together as a team and anyone who thought he could get away with less, got to run laps. As a coach we teach them that the harder they work, the luckier they will get. We do not let them fail, we include them so they are not on the streets doing things they shouldn’t be doing. We give them a reason, a purpose, and a feeling that they are part of something great. That in all their life, if they remember that as long as they work together toward a common goal, they can accomplish anything.

    • This is why most soccer clubs have competitive and recreational teams and they do not play against each other because not all are the same. There is and always will be a difference between the two. Adults need to learn this. Is it better to be a big fish in a small pond and win every game or is it better to be a little fish in a big pond and have to work for a spot on the team? This is the difference I see in soccer. Too many wanting to be the big fish in the little pond because it is easier and cheaper than having your child or team actually compete at a level in which they might lose and would have to work harder to gain success. This article is written for U10 and under I believe. There are few children this age who are naturals, there are many who are competitive though and belong in that league. There are many for whom this is just a fun past time and it always will be. It is up to the parent to figure out which group their child belongs in and place them accordingly.

    • It seems like maybe your kids are older and/or your experience with coaching is older kids. I can absolutely see your points in relation to older kids, but not so much the little ones. In the picture she posted above, those kids are tiny! No one at that age is really THAT much better than anyone else. A huge part of playing any sport at that age is experience. If they aren’t allowed to play at that age, how will they get the much-needed experience?

    • Mike, you may have volunteered your time to coach the kids. On behalf of the teams that you volunteered for, THANK YOU.

      But, you are DEAD WRONG…. and I am guessing the kids you coach will not remember you as someone as a best coach of their when asked later in life. Kids need confidence and praise. They will learn quickly what they are good at and what they are not good at. My 5 year old son can tell you exactly who is the best kids on each team and which kids are the lowest skilled players. The kids know. That doesn’t mean that the lowest skilled players don’t get praise. This praise will equate to confidence in trying other things. Perhaps the lowest skilled hockey player will take a risk and try another sport in which he turns out to be an Olympian. With the praise on the rink, the kid probably doesn’t try anything else because he has gotten so “beaten up” from jerks like you. Instead he stops taking risks and all of sudden his self-esteem is in the gutter. THAT is the life lesson.

      I am sorry you cant understand these points. It actually makes me a little sad.

  27. Has anyone ever given thought to having an assistant to the coach to help wrangle the parents? It sounds crazy, I’m sure, but sometimes the leagues have more volunteers that might be able to hang on the sidelines and police the wild parents kindly, help them know when is a good time to cheer, etc. It would be nice if everyone had common sense and just sit and enjoy the game in good spirit but I’ve about given up on everyone falling in line out here.

  28. Amen sista! Our girls know at the end of every practice or game they need to thank their coaches personally before leaving the court/field. At the end of the season they write each coach a thank you note.

    One of our basketball coaches this winter sounds a lot like Craig. I was beyond impressed when I noticed before the start of every game, he walked over to the opposing team and shook the hand of each player and wished her good luck. That is setting the right example for the 7 & 8 year olds he is coaching!

    Now I am going to ask my kids how best I can support them from the sidelines. I am guessing I may need to tweak my cheering a bit.

  29. I am going to print this and read it every Saturday morning for the next 18 years. So important!

  30. Ask your kid how they want you to cheer… that’s a great suggestion. I never would have thought of it like that, and what a huge difference it must make to how they experience their sport.

    I hope my kid has a Coach Craig or two in his future. Thanks for sharing this.

  31. Amen, amen, and amen!! I wish half of the parents I sit on the bleachers with would read this. Point blank, these games when they’re little are just that, games. Of course I want them to keep score, there should always be a winner and a loser in my opinion (even CandyLand has a winner!), that teaches life lessons. So in those losing moments those kids should also be taught how to lose graciously as well. And the winners should be taught not to gloat but be proud in a job well done. And all of these things, should be taught by the example of the parents.

  32. Can you write something along these lines for the church community and the parish priest/minister/pastor?

  33. Great article. Just remember all coaches are not men. More and more women are coaching and SHE deserves your thanks and gratitude also. I am president of our girls youth travel basketball club and I have been a girls basketball and softball coach for over 30 years. A solution to over zealous parents is hard to find. Our league had a fist fight break out between an assistant coach and one of HIS team parents at a 5th grade playoff game. My opinion…not only stop the game but empty the gym of all parents! Penalties for teams whose parents are out of control. Something has to be done!!

  34. This is so great and so true! Everybody on the sidelines needs to just SIMMER ON DOWN NOW.

  35. Growing up, I didn’t really play sports ( our family was more music/theater people) but have always been a huge sports fan. So when watching my kids play I have to really have to be careful about my instinct to cheer and holler too enthusiastically. My daughter told me that she didn’t mind cheering in soccer because she usually couldn’t hear it, but that my cheering during softball was distracting. I didn’t realize how distracting it could be until after last season her team had a girls vs. parents game and I found myself wanting to shush my kids who were cheering for me! Needless to say, the 8year old pitcher struck me out on three pitches!

  36. I have a child in a local soccer rec league. One player on an opposite team who was clearly bigger than the other kids was playing unfairly using slide tackles (Not Allowed) on a 7 yr old team. Also, the referee was working her first game. I shouted out to the referee that a person from the other team was slide tackling and that someone was going to get hurt. It continued to happen about 4 more times and nothing was done about it.
    I took the matters into my own hands as I am not about to let any 7 yr old get a knee injury out of negligence. The other teams coach became very belligerent and profane and was trying to kick me out of the stands. He then threatened to beat me up (in front of all the other parents) when I wouldn’t leave. It really does take all kinds of stupidity to use vulgar and profane language in front of the children. Some kids left the field crying and the other teams coach was pinning the blame on me instead of addressing the slide tackling child. I told the league, if you intend on letting this kid play like that, my kid will not be in harms way and I will remove her from your program. The voice of reason won out, the league kicked the other teams coach out of the program after dozens of witnesses stood by my side as being right. The other teams coach continues to snarl at me every time I see him. I simply look away. If any child, not just mine is subject to unfair play that could lead to injury, I feel it is every ones responsibility to protect the child. In this instance, I explained to my child that I spoke and stood up for what I believed was right and just. I hoped that the other coach learned his lesson, but I doubt it.

    • Good for you!!

    • Parents ‘taking matters into their own hands’ is one of the biggest problems in youth sports.

      • Lee- In general you are right about parents “taking matters into their own bends,” but when the matter is player safety, it is a parent’s duty to say something. Parents who defend rough play and support coaches who teach it are the problem. Let’s all be honest here: we know there are coaches and players at the upper levels of the game who take full advantage of youth soccer’s emphasis on TRYING to get parents to just shut the hell up on the sidelines. We are scolded repeatedly for saying anything about player safety, while certain teams and players consistently play a filthy game and get away with it because there is so much pressure to be the nice parent. I agree we should not abuse the referees, but the referees should also respect the players by keep the game clean enough to prevent unnecessary injuries. It may not be ballet, but it isn’t American Football either. I have seen parents grumble but generally stay silent while a coach shrieked at a middle school aged ref for calling his team on ANY infraction. Meantime, his players were driving elbows into stomachs, rabbit punching and using two-handed grabs to tackle their opponents. (yes, a few players were actually laid out on the ground by this kind of play…and they were U11s.) The coach also taunted his team’s opponents verbally. And a few months later, when one of his roughest players (by this time known by one and all opposing players and parents) broke another girl’s leg in two places, the league said it had received NO complaints about this team. It was only after two coaches and something like a dozen parents wrote statements describing the team’s behavior, that the coach was given a warning. Later, a parent reported him for using profanity against a ref and he was placed on probation. It took another six months for his club to replace him. So, yes, we should be supportive of the players, but it doesn’t take all that long in youth soccer for coaches to begin gaming the system and teaching their players to be a bit on the rotten side.

  37. Thanks for this. My dad coached for over 30 years, and refereed as well. My mom must have gone to hundreds of games, watching other people’s kids play sports. Sports were an important part of our family life. My father was fortunate to have wonderful players and parents right up until his retirement a few years ago, but boy have things changed in the past ten years. It reminds me of the similar shift in the way teachers are treated!

  38. I wish I’d had this one of our previous seasons when the parents berated my husband’s volunteering abilities because “this is a critical year for skill development.” His players? 6 year olds!

  39. I enjoyed and like this article and it great for young kids who are new to sports and it is a lesson that all parents need to learn in the beginning.
    However at some point all kids need to learn that we are not all “great” or even “good” at everything they try. I have kids who are getting older and to avoid having to play on teams that may have less competitive players we have moved away from most Rec sports and into Select/Elite Sports and I do expect that we should play and compete with our best players on the field. I have been on all sides of this situation as an athlete, a coach, and a parents and there are a few things that I have learned and tried to convey to parents and even the kids. My biggest hope for any child that decides to play competitive sports is that parents who have not had athletic success of their own do not define themselves by their child’s performance. On the flip side as a coach if you see a parent who is pushing their child in a direction that clearly is not a good fit and they cannot see it you have an obligation to help that family. Not every kids who likes baseball is a baseball player, every little girl who watches ballet will not be a ballerina and sometimes parents need to have there eyes open to that.
    I will continue to be both my kids biggest fan and find the best opportunities for them the older and more advance they become, however I will also be the one who lets them know that hey this really may not be your thing. That is my job as a parent/coach to protect my kids and yours. One lesson we are not teaching our kids anymore is that everyone is not a “Winner” and not everyone wins a trophy for just coming out of the house.

    • Brandy, you raise some interesting points, and I’m curious what you think of this: I think the “everyone gets a trophy” is a cliche. After a certain age, kids have no illusions about their skills relative to other kids and often drop sports when they can’t keep up. My question: Shouldn’t kids who want to play keep trying? And shouldn’t kids who “can’t be ballerinas” find a way to dance anyway? They need to be physically fit, and they need the pride that comes with working hard and developing skills (the opposite of everyone gets a trophy), and, most of all, the pure joy that comes with physical activity. Hardly any of these kids (even the select athletes) are going to go pro, almost all of them will be overshadowed by someone, they should all keep playing. When I was a kid, we only did what we excelled at (and there was plenty of “you’re not going to get a trophy” feedback). As an adult, I wish I had spent a lot more time on things I enjoyed but was not good at–because no one really cares anymore and my skills would have improved. I don’t advocate false praise, but I do advocate showing up and joining the game and developing as much as you can, and, ultimately, finding your passion. It takes courage and it’s fun.

      • Here, here! Well said!

      • Claire – I agree entirely. There are plenty of opportunities for kids who excel to gravitate towards teams that reflect their skill level, but why shouldn’t kids of all skill level be encouraged just to keep showing up and doing their best at whatever level they happen to be at just for the joy, comradery and other benefits of it.

      • I love your comment the most out of them all that I have read so far!

        “Shouldn’t kids who want to play keep trying? And shouldn’t kids who “can’t be ballerinas” find a way to dance anyway?”

        Exactly! and I hope there will be plenty of opportunities, spaces and instructors available so that those in-between kids can keep doing what they love to do and don’t have to give up just because they are not quite good enough yet.

  40. Thank you for this post! I know a lot of parents that could benefit from it. 😉

  41. “Remember that you are there FOR your child, not the other way around. She’s not performing for you, you are supporting her.”

    I don’t know why this touched such a chord with me – but SO TRUE. My parents are both professional musicians, so playing instruments was our family “sport.” I can’t remember how many piano competitions and recitals I participated in between the ages of 8 -19… but I remember the shaky, nervous, “I am going to throw up on the piano” nerves that I got for almost every single one. So some reason my mom was always as nervous as I was -and I was always afraid that I wouldn’t do well enough to make her proud. My mom was a music teacher and it always felt like her reputation was on the line as well… I don’t know. I just became a mom three months ago and day-um. It is hard work. So if my mom slipped a bit in this area…oh well. We make mistakes. But I am going to work really hard to show my little boy how much he is loved has no relation to how well he does. Your value is not wrapped up in a grade or a score or a judge’s estimation of your performance. You have value because you are YOU. Much love to you and your little athletes!

  42. This was great, wish I read before going into our last weekend hockey tourney for both my boys! The stands are a bit much. Next season I am sitting away so not to get involved with others opinions or comments! Thanks for this. Looking forward to switching gears into soccer season!

  43. Love this! We’ve been playing in an indoor league where there is plastic barriers where the kids can’t hear the parents very well. We were all speaking last night what good practice this was for us for when we rejoin the outdoors again. The kids are playing great without us yelling at them and just seeing us cheer, so it was a good lesson!

  44. I live in a small town where almost every child plays sports. There is little else for kids to do. So sports become very competitive very early. My son quit playing sports in 2nd grade because of the behavior of kids and parents. I didn’t know why he quit until a couple of years later. At the time, I didn’t ask because I didn’t want him to feel like I was pushing him to stay in it. I just assumed he didn’t like baseball and soccer and wanted to find something else to do. Later, he told me he could hear baseball parents saying mean things when he was in the dugout (which I hadn’t heard from where I was in the stands). And he didn’t like the cheating in soccer, even when it was his own team. Coaches cheating too, by having the kids play specific positions (that was supposed to start in the next older division, our kids were supposed to just run all over the field). Our coach had to do the same thing, so we wouldn’t lose every game. She was one of those moms who was pressured into coaching under the threat of her child not being able to play because there weren’t enough coaches. (That happened to more than one mom I know.) She knew she couldn’t successfully complain against a dad who had coached in that league for years. I think a lot of kids are not learning about sportsmanship in sports. I’m glad to see people here are doing better than that.

  45. SHARING! I am a youth coach for soccer and basketball and frequently remind parents that “insert sport” is a tool for LIFE! Less than 1% of these kids will play professionally. The sport(s) they choose probably aren’t going to pay their bills. If they are one of the 1%, good for them! However, kids WILL learn life lessons like good sportsmanship, hard work, having fun, and being a good teammate and opponent. Sadly, in order to remind some parents of the need to be quiet on the sidelines, I hand out bags of suckers or sunflower seeds before our season starts. It works, to a point. Thank you for your well written article.

  46. YES!!!! My husband has coached our daughter’s team for the past three years, and I am saving this link to save to our parent list in the fall!!! SO GOOD! Two years ago, the other COACH shoved my husband after a game and told him our team were a bunch of losers. This was in response to my husband trying to have a discrete chat with him after the game about how AYSO’s policy is to play all the kids equally, and this other coach was only playing his best players. That guy wound up being booted out of AYSO and banned from ever volunteering again. It just broke my heart the kids had to see that kind of behavior from their COACH. And they were SIX years old. Thank you again, Glennon!!! So well said!!

  47. I see others have read the “I love to watch you play” article also. One of the points it made was how much it meant for kids to hear this rather than having their performance criticized OR be told that they had played wonderfully when they hadn’t. Years back, my daughter was on one of those teams where they were all given trophies at the end of the year. Life isn’t about everyone getting the same reward/consequence no matter what they do.

    This also applies to any activity in which your child is involved: I love to watch you dance, or hear you sing or play an instrument, or see you work so hard to solve a math problem, or love to hear you read out loud.

    Our daughter wasn’t big into sports, but I wish I had known this at the time for everything else.

  48. Thank goodness there are coaches out there like this!! Now that our daughter is 14, we choose her club teams based on the coaches and parents – we won’t take her talents to “that” team with obnoxious coaches OR parents. And thankful that early on, when starting basketball on a boys team, at her first game she said, “Tell the coach I just want to watch, I don’t want to play.” It wasn’t important to this coach that they win – he just wanted to teach the game TO ALL OF THEM. He was so good with her that game and talked her into going in. Thank goodness. A couple years later when she hit middle school, she was the high scorer on their team and let them to only one loss their last year (by one point!). All children deserve a positive experience. Kudos to your husband!

  49. Two of my daughters start soccer at the end of this month, this helped incredibly! I can’t wait for their games and neither can they :)

  50. Fan-darn-tastic!!!!!! (fan pun was not intended, really – it just happened)
    This should be given to every parent before he/she fills in the registration form for any/every team they are signing their child up for!
    I especially love where you wrote these simple, yet wise words:
    “They are children. You are a grown up. That is all.”

  51. Yes!!! Yes!!! This!!! This is just right!!!! Yes!!! My father MUST read this before every single one of my less than a decade year old son!!!! Yes!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!

  52. FANTASTIC piece…as an American watching my own kids play sports over here in London, I cringe when parents on the sideline scream such instructions out to their child as ‘WIN IT!’ and ‘DON’T TURN AROUND!’ Craig sounds like an amazing coach and you are spot on with your tips. Thank you!

  53. “Remember you are there FOR your child, not the other way around. She’s not performing for you, you are supporting her!” That pretty much sums it up! Love you.

  54. Great suggestions!

    Might I also add that a respectful attitude toward the officials is huge! While I was growing up, I traveled around the Southeast and beyond while my dad was a referee for rec league all the way to semi-pro soccer leagues. It was a great way to get to watch lots of soccer matches, but it sure was hard to hear the nasty things people said to and about him. Their words never bothered him, but it sure made me see things differently. Among the worst offenders were actually the FCA leaders at my small Christian college– and they even knew I was the ref’s daughter. Ick!

    For the most part, my dad and his referee buddies loved the game and truly cared about and respected the players. They consistently called coaches after matches to check on injured players. They weren’t control freaks who just liked having whistles. They trained year-round to stay in shape and forked over money and spent lots of time attending training sessions to be as good as they could be at officiating. Five years after retiring from his hobby of being a soccer official, my dad still gets stopped in stores and restaurants by former players and has even received graduation invitations from players with whom he developed relationships. He says the players are what he misses the most. He is not the minority.

    Every referee makes mistakes and bad calls now and again, just like any other person. Luckily, most of us don’t have to endure our mistakes being on public display in front of a crowd of hostile parents.

    • I sure wish there were more refs like your dad. Sadly, that’s not the case. It appears that the surge in actual numbers of players has outpaced the number of refs. I’m fully aware that middle-schoolers who train to ref the rec leagues quite in high numbers due to conflicts but more due to rude parents and coaches. The flip side is that the referee organizations are so short handed that some very inexperienced refs are CRs for high school and elite club games. You mentioned that your dad and his friends worked at their fitness? Not so at a lot of Maryland HS girls games. And when a forward gets taken down by a two-handed tackle in front of the goal and the ref says, “play on,” how is that respect for the players? We see this all of the time. In one game, for some reason the refs were involved in waving subs onto the field, and some other fuss involving talking to players in and around the goal prior to a free kick and otherwise not paying attention to the player about to take the kick. During that time, the spectators (and the coaches of BOTH teams, mind you!) watched the player inch the ball forward for a gain of about ten years. Well, naturally, the parents in the stands tried to point it out to the ref. At no time did I hear abusive language…more like dismay that this was happening and that the ref refused to acknowledge it. Kick taken. It got closer to goal than it might have but nothing untoward happened on that play. But–the ref proceeded to punish the players of the parents who’d called out the cheating by handing out 3 yellow cards for minor infractions in the final ten minutes of the game. Thin-skinned and petty. Yes. We are all adults, including the refs. Again, I’d love to see more refs like your dad…and more of them helping to shape a better generation of refs.

  55. I grew up playing sports, and I’ve coached my daughter’s basketball team and soccer team, and you are spot on. I love it. I wish every parent with a kid in sports would read this and abide by it.

    Another article I read had this incredible piece of wisdom — after a game, say nothing but “I love to watch you play.”

    My dad used to “coach” me (I heard criticism and no complimenting) all the way home after every basketball game. I know he just wanted to help (being a coach himself he did know what he was talking about) but I HATED the car ride home.

    The best was when I started playing soccer and he knew nothing about the game. The car ride became, “So…good game. You won.” I loved it! Then he went out and bought a book about soccer and read it cover to cover.

  56. Yes!! My son likes me to be quiet when watching his baseball games…and it’s REALLY HARD! But that is what he prefers bc he’s quiet and doesn’t like unnecessary attention drawn to him. My husband will even ask the other parents to NOT yell out his name when he’s up to bat bc he knows how nervous it makes our little man :).

  57. Amen!!! Should be required reading before signing children up for sports, or dance., or music.

  58. Yes to so much of what you have written Glennon but as our children get bigger things change. My boy is playing competitive football/soccer as a proto-teen and I confess to being a shouty mama. I shout encouragement, I shout advice, I shout recognition and when a goal is scored no matter which team I clap. Similarly if the play is good I applaud it. I have always insisted on good sportsmanship and my boy has to thank the referee as well as the coach/es. We do discuss the coach’s decision as part of a post-match deconstruction and if he disagrees w something or wishes to try a different tactic I suggest he take it to his coach.

    I am a huge believer in team sports for children because of the scope for learning.

  59. I love watching small children play. They all just gang up around the ball and stay together!! Have fun people.

  60. In response to Momma Max, this is a wonderful situation for your kids to develop leadership skills. As a coach I have had this on my teams and am always thrilled. The kids that have the skills also have the ability to help their peers develop the same skills. We know not all kids are equally prepared for their sports. Your primary job as a parent is to teach your kids how to help those that don’t have the same ability, to act respectfully toward them and not look down on them. Some day your child may try a sport where the kid that lacks ability in this sport may excel in the other one. Or the kid that is just starting out may learn very quickly and become the best player on the team. Maybe neither happens and they stay as the weaker kids on the team. Regardless they are still part of the team. Sadly too many parents respond incorrectly and will cause a division amongst the kids. I do agree that as they get older they do become more competitive (I’ve coached every age from 4 to 20 boys and girls). And in high school the win does become more important for some college bound students. It is however a very small percentage of kids that play college level and even smaller past that. I have found that the teams that get along better where everyone helps each other are more likely to get the win and have a far more enjoyable time. Short version: Don’t ever think your kid is too good to play with another, you never know who either will become.

    • “The kids that have the skills also have the ability to help their peers develop the same skills.”


  61. AMEN!! Love the reminder that every kids needs different parenting and that even extends to how we cheer!

    and just wait till your kid is the one that accidentally scores for the other team in the playoffs… and makes the game a tie… which means your team doesn’t advance…character building for sure (for parents too!)

  62. My hubby is a basketball referee and I can totally relate to this! I rarely go watch because people in the stands are so awful. They have no idea his wife and kids are sitting right in front of them when they scream their heads off about what a horrible call was made. He has helped coach many times too. I have gotten really good at asking my kids if they had fun, win or lose and I tell them I had fun watching them play and we move on to the next thing. As usual, your words are relevant and inspiring. Thanks!

  63. #6, I needed to read this. Thank You!

  64. This is perfect! While my two girls are older & participate in competitive sports I can relate to everything you have written! Both of my girls have played multiple sports since they were young and my husband has coached (still does) and it is tough, sometimes, being the coache’s wife. This article reminds me of “The Matheny Manifesto” written by Mike Matheny to a group of youth parents..if you have not read it, check it out (just google it.., it’ll come right up)- it is also brilliant. Thank you, are simply amazing!

  65. Great suggestions! Also, I read somewhere to say to your child, “I had so much fun watching you play.” And I find that to be so true.

  66. I remember when Colleen played soccer, one time you showed up with a sign “Go Colleen!”
    So cute…and seems like forever ago.
    I wished you lived closer and we would show up with signs!

  67. I am a mom and coach. I have coached both of my boys through several seasons of soccer and have only now, as a coach, come to fully appreciate the power of sports and good coaching and good parenting. For these little kids, their soccer game is the BIGGEST deal, and a comment from a parent or coach can literally make or break their day. It is not the biggest deal because they care so much about winning–it is because they care so much about being brave, and being liked, and being cheered for, and being celebrated. I work a stressful job and often times I wish I didn’t have to go to practice or get up early on a Saturday morning….but it always turns out that that practice or that game is the highlight of my day and week. Hugs from my little players (and sons) are just THE BEST. Thanks for this piece.

  68. As a coaches wife AND a parent, this is spot on. I’ve heard many angry and hurtful comments about my husband because, as he writes to parents before the beginning of each season, “he wants the kids to learn and he doesn’t want to be their last coach because they grew to hate the game.” As a parent, I also know that our children learn how to handle competition by how they see their parents handle it. This is a great piece! Thank you!

  69. Love this and agree with it all. Mostly. Cuz we have a coach that Could RIVAL any over zealous parent. Derogatory. Mean. Screaming. Etc…. What do you do with that, when it’s the coach NOT the parents carrying on at a elementary age sport???

    • You should make the organization aware of the coach’s behavior and have someone come observe a game. Discuss it with other parents. Speak to the coach if you feel comfortable doing that. Most rec departments are desperate for coaches, but I don’t believe that having “any” coach is better than having no coach if the coach is derogatory and inappropriate.

  70. Although the article does have some good pointers, I disagree with some of it. My kids are older and they are competitive. When they are put on a city team, the mentality of the volunteer coaches is to win. However, the teams are not split fairly – so this becomes an issue with dominant and less dominant teams. For instance my 11 year old daughter was on a city soccer team. They did not win one game. The cards were stacked. She was very discouraged, because she is a good player, yet was put on a team with kids who were playing soccer for the first time, could barely dribble the ball, and not even come close to making a goal. My 9 year old son is on the city basketball team. The kids attended a skills night, where they were given scores, and then placed on teams accordingly, to spread out the talent. He ended up on a team that is filled with kids who have never played basketball, can’t pass/catch/dribble/or shoot a basket. So how does this help my children’s confidence? They leave their games frustrated, upset and not wanting to play. I know it’s not all about winning, but it is about being competitive and fair, and when the cards are stacked against you, it’s not easy to keep up the high spirits.

    I think that some of these comments are perhaps from parents of young children, who are just starting out in their sport. I also have younger children, and I do agree that their first organized sports experiences need to be fun and positive.

    However, from my experience, as the kids get older it does get competitive. Yes, winning does become the focus.

    • This is a good lesson that life isn’t fair. It isn’t always going to be fair and I would rather my kids learn that now than when they are out own their own. We experienced the same thing.. losing seasons, and my kids learned more during those seasons than the winning ones.

      • I agree, Nat. Although it’s frustrating to be placed on a team with a losing record and teammates that have lower abilities, unfortunately, this is how life works. This doesn’t only apply to athletics–how many academic groups did I participate in where I lead most of the group, did most of the work, earned most of the credit? Yet, the whole group “earned” the A. Even as an adult, I’ve served on committees that don’t seem ‘fair’– and they’re not. And you know what? ‘Tis life. :)

    • I agree, Nat and Karah. Since my boys are older (and care to know the score at the end of the game…and can count it themselves!) and are super competitive, sports has become a lot less fun on the sidelines. It’s just as important to learn how to lose with grace. They could be the new player with little skill some day. Treating the less skilled with grace is HUGE. We’ve been on both sides with amazing winning seasons and terrific losing streaks – it is an absolutely hard-earned blessing to be able to sit on both sides of the bench and know exactly how your opponent feels and respond properly to each. It’s also beneficial to have exposure to a great coach and a not-so-great one. They will have excellent examples about what kind of leader they want to have and want to be.

  71. Excellent advice. As usual! I was at my 9 year old daughter’s soccer game Saturday and quite a few of the parents I am sure are convinced that their daughters are going on to play professional sports by the way they are screaming and directing from the sideline. Really???
    I have tried to encourage my three kids (16,12, and 9) to thank their coach. After Every game. That coach is volunteering his/her time, energy and love to help them learn about life and sports and how it all fits together and they deserve everyone’s gratitude, parents and players alike.
    Thanks for a fantastic post!

  72. Love love love this! As the mom of two girls in soccer–one doing rec, the other travel (and I’m the travel team manager)–this is such great advice for those who are new to the world of kids’ sports as well as those who’ve been involved in it for some time. I just linked to it on our team web site so that other parents on our team can read your words of wisdom and KNOW. It truly does take a village :)

  73. This is awesome!!! JUST GOT BORN. my fave. Thanks for this. My 4 yr old daughter starts her first tball practice today and I’m a coach. Love you. And I will see you in Dallas with my bestie on April 10. Cannot handle. So excited. xoxo

  74. You reminded me of a study where college athletes were surveyed. They reported that the most rewarding thing to hear from their parents is, “I love to watch you play.”
    Soccer season starts tomorrow for us. I can’t wait to watch them play!

  75. I can’t believe any of these things have to be said- they should all be known by everyone already but thanks for the reminder!

  76. Kids need a consent form to play on a team so it should include the above for mentioned read and signed too.

  77. After each game, families make a tunnel–so picture it. You stand shoulder to shoulder with other grownups (and sometimes older siblings) in a row, across from other grown ups who also make a row and you hold their hands high, up and across and make a tunnel. As the kids shake hands, the opposing team crosses and runs under your tunnel as your sweethearts run through the other team’s tunnel. Then the kids double back to their home team tunnels. There is lots of cheering and giggles and its how we end the game win or lose. So fun! Also, I once read an article that suggested you tell your child that you love to watch them play. Just that simple phrase still makes Gracie’s eyes light up even more.

  78. This is super hard work. It takes a strong person to show up AND respect the coach, the other parents, the other kids, the other team and your own kid. I have failed at this and I am not proud. I have watched other parents fail at this when my husband was coaching. Thanks for the reminder, G. Even at the professional level, it’s just a game. Important life lessons abound, but it’s just a game.

  79. This applies to dance moms, too! And I so appreciate it!

  80. Love this! Years ago when I taught preschool, the teacher I worked with who was a couple decades older taught me a very valuable lesson. It was befor I had my first child. I took it to heart and then when I had my first child, I completely understood. She said to remember that each of these children were someone else’s whole world. Their most precious treasure in all the world and we needed to see them each as a gift from these parents. AND each of these little ones needed to be embraced with care and compassion and as much patience as we could muster bc these little ones have only been on the planet 2 or 3 or 4 years. They were learning everything for the first time. It wasn’t just our job to teach them their shapes and colors and letters, we were teaching them how to love and care and treat each other. That teacher gave me such a gift. And what you just wrote reminds me so much of that. Thank you, Darlin.

    • Ohhhh…, you made me cry.

      • Me too! When I used to lead wilderness trips for teens, the new director of our organization had a son who was going on his first trip and he sat with the entire staff (over 50 twentysomethings who could survive in the woods for weeks, so thought we had it all figured out) and explained that his son and every child on the program was the most precious gift someone could give us and we needed to return them safely, both emotionally and physically. Twenty years and 2 kids later, I’ve never forgotten that message.

  81. I love this. Sometimes I would try and “help” my kid by telling him after practice/game what he should have done. But now, I just tell him how much fun I had watching him and how proud I am he tried his best. It’s a tough job coaching these parents. I’ll make sure to thank our coaches!!

  82. So on the money I was cheering (loudly,the way you would like it) as I read this. This should be required reading for all parents who sign up their kids for sports at ANY age!

  83. As always, Glennon, you are spot on!!! This is a great one. I feel all of these things every time I go to one of my kid’s games…and that’s quite frequently! It amazes me how many parents are “poor sports”…and how obvious it is (especially as the age of the players increases) which parents belong to which children. The apple does not fall far from the tree…and these kids are learning what they see and hear and live.

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