Ahead in the Count

Thoughts for the Sidelines

written by Brendan Sullivan

Some thoughts as we hit the fields (and sidelines) this fall…

As a young athlete, I was very fortunate to have two unwaveringly supportive parents. I firmly believe that this support was instrumental in my wonderful experiences here at home in DC, and also helped me take my love of baseball to the collegiate and professional levels. Parents play an enormously important role in the athletic development of boys and girls, but a parent’s impact on their child’s athletic experience can be positive or negative. Here are a few tips for being the sports parent that your student-athlete deserves:

Prepare your athlete

Athletes play better (and have more fun) when they are properly prepared. Make a commitment to get your son or daughter to practices and games on time, with all necessary SuperStock_867R-1315-FBequipment (this should be their job, with your help!). Players who are constantly late and missing important items rarely play up to their potential and begin to feel that they are letting their teammates down. Proper nutrition is crucial as well. Help fuel your athlete with good, healthy snacks and fluids before and after their events.

The experience is your child’s not yours

Remember that this is your athlete’s experience, not yours, and that she should take ownership of it. Encourage her to organize her own equipment and uniform, carry her own bag, and communicate directly with her coaches (about issues, absences, etc). This feeling of ownership will allow her to feel more in control and get more benefit from the season. You don’t need to hang on the fence and watch every practice. It is ok to pick her up and let her tell you about it on the way home.

Be the TEAM’s biggest fan

PCA_HTG%201The Positive Coaching Alliance provides research showing that young athletes perform better in environments that achieve a “Magic Ratio” of 5 positives for every 1 criticism or correction. As a fan, you can do your part to boost that positive column! Cheer for all team members, not just your own child. Also, cheer for players who hustle, help a teammate or exhibit strong sportsmanship as much (or more) as you do when your team scores runs or points.

Let the players and coaches worry about winning

The athletic culture in this country is extremely win-at-all-costs and we need to work together to change this. We are all competitive, especially coaches and young athletes. Parents and fans should focus on making the environments in which their children play as positive and fun as possible. Young athletes will play their chosen sports longer when they enjoy themselves and are surrounded by positive and motivational parents and coaches – not because their team goes undefeated.


The First Fan Brings Positive Energy on the Soccer Sidelines With the Wicked Witch of the East

September 18, 2009 - Posted by | On the Field, written by Brendan Sullivan | , , , , , , , ,

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