No matter what sport your child is playing this year, here are some things you should know about being a winning parent.
1. Sign your kid up for the team. Be at the first meeting and pay the fees.
2. Get your kid the equipment he needs but not more than that. If the cleats you can get at Target are good enough, don’t spend $100 on shoes from a fancy sports store. It will just make you sad when he loses the left one.
3. Take your kid to the practices. Practices are more important than games, because it’s at practice that your child will learn about the sport, gain more skill and coordination, and become a better teammate.
4. Practice at home if your kid wants to. And just as with math homework, practice the way the coach wants your child to practice, not in some fancy way you know about. Let your child’s coach be her leader and don’t try to hog the spotlight.
5. Show up at the matches. Be there in the stands and pay attention to the game. This is not the time to talk on the phone, work on your laptop, or wander off and get coffee. The moment you look away is the moment your child will hit a home run, make a goal, or break her arm. Pay attention.
6. Demonstrate good sportsmanship even if it kills you. The key to being a good sport is to keep your mouth closed. Don’t yell at the ref, harangue the coach, boo the players, or even shout specific directions to your child. You may cheer a good play (from either team) but, as your mother told you, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
7. Never ask about the score. If you weren’t at the game, don’t ask, “Did you win?” or even “Did you score?” If your child volunteers this information, fine. But otherwise don’t make the focus on winning or losing. Instead ask, “Did you have fun?”
8. Bring snacks when you’re the Snack-Parent. And despite your personal nutritional perspective, now is not the time to take a self-righteous stand on protein bars. Provide the snack your child and his teammates expect you to provide.
9. If your child decides she hates this game, renegotiate her participation. She’s a child, not someone under contract. If being part of the team really makes her sad, talk it over and see what can be done. Quitting is always an option.
10. Thank the coach. Coaching kids sports is a generous act. Remember to say thank you often. Even if you and your child’s coach don’t always see eye to eye, still it’s the coach who’s making time for this in his life, not you. In fact, the best way to thank a coach is to volunteer to coach next year.
Have a great season. Go team!