Sometimes It Is TOUGH Being A Sports Parent

Welcome to the Mental Toughness Academy!  I’m Craig Sigl, the Mental Toughness Trainer. I have two teenage boys myself that play sports, so I get it how hard parental involvement is in youth sports!

It requires a lot of balance between cheerleading them on and keeping your mouth shut, because none of us want to be perceived as those overbearing parents in sports!

Do you ever have those times with your young athlete that it seems like no matter what you do or say, it’s going to be wrong or make things worse?

I’ve been there myself with my kids. I’ve got some answers for the next time you’re between that rock and a hard place.

Click the link to watch a short video to learn what to do to be a great sports parent…


Being a sports parent can be a tough job…

Girl practicing for soccerMike coaches his 13-year-old daughter, Beth’s soccer team, three nights a week. He always feels unsure as to how her mood will be on the way home. It tends to set the tone for the rest of the family AND the rest of the night.

Sometimes Beth is totally excited about how she played and other times, she sulks. A lot of times because of a negative comment from one of her teammates.

Since Mike has a hard time reading her mood sometimes and understanding what goes on inside a 13-year-old girl’s mind, he typically uses the car ride home to point out what Beth could have done better to improve her play. He doesn’t want to be one of those parents pushing their kids in sports, but he does want to help her improve. Beth, on the other hand, doesn’t want to talk about her hurt feelings and is afraid to say anything that might disappoint her Dad.

A Sports Parent multitaskingBeth’s mom, Jill can usually tell right away if something is wrong and does her best to comfort her daughter, while juggling dinner, the dishes, the laundry, and getting everything ready for the next day.

She can feel her daughter’s hurt and see the tears in her eyes, but just doesn’t seem to be able to come up the magical words that will make it all better as she sends her off to bed.

Her brother, Jason comes home from practice, throws his backpack on the ground and without saying “hi” to anyone, asks, “what’s for dinner”. Jill, acutely aware of her children’s moods says, “chicken…what happened at practice today, Jason?” Mike’s ears also perk up as he listens to Jason complain about his coach again.

Football athlete speaking with youth coachHe had taken his Dad’s advice and asked the coach for a short meeting before practice, so he could ask what it would take for him to get more playing time and what he will need to do to get his game to the next level.

He was totally frustrated by the coach’s vague advice, “you’ve got to focus more”, “work harder” and “find your swagger out there on the field. Jason was now angry and frustrated with his dad, because he felt like that advice got him nowhere and now he does not know what to do.

Does any of this sound familiar? Has this type of drama gone on inside your household? Most parents in youth sports give me a resounding YES.

We all want the best for our kids and want them to be happy and successful.

Football coach giving instructionsSometimes it is the system that parents bump up against… There are some great coaches out there and a lot of times there are coaches that mean well, but don’t know how to help kids deal with the emotional side of their sport.

Most of us encourage our kids to play sports to learn focus, confidence, how to be a team player, overcome adversity, develop a never give up attitude…the list could go on and on.

Coach at a basketball gameSometime in your child’s playing career, they will encounter a coach who says or does something that could have a tremendous impact on your kid, good or bad.

Unfortunately, a lot of young athletes think their coaches are gods and what they say is always the truth. This can be really damaging if the feedback is negative. In our trainings, we help kids get perspective on their coaches and as parents you should do the same as well.

Even if they have great coaches, sports parents need to understand a lot of young athletes get their validation as a worthwhile person from performing well and base their personal value on whether they win or lose. This can be devastating, if they don’t learn early on this is not true!

Parent speaking to youth athleteWhat you need to do as parents is to always refer them back to the reasons they starting playing in the beginning. Help them focus on the fun, the skill-development aspects of the sport simply for the challenge of mastering and improving and help them let go of the pressure to win.

Remember they have to want it for themselves. In fact, they have to want it more than you want it. The most you can do is provide encouragement.

Here are some guidelines for sports parents to avoid parental pressure in sports:

1. Before child agrees to play a sport, have them sit down and make a list of what that entails: the length of the season, weekend games, practices, packing their own bag, etc.
2. When a child needs to be disciplined, don’t take away a practice or game as a punishment. It isn’t fair to the team.
3. Commit to not being one of those parents pushing their kids in sports, so the motivation comes from within them.
4. Use setbacks as teaching moments and share some of your woe-to-win stories to help get them there. Make them up if you have to!

Don’t leave these teachable moments to the coaches. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers. Your primary job, as a parent involved in kid’s sports, is to provide them with a safe place to land when they fall or when things get tough.

Our goal at the Mental Toughness Academy is to support sports parent in supporting their kids to be the best athletes as well as happy The 10 Commandments for a Great Sports Parentwell-adjusted kids that feel ready to take on the world.

We’ve got more free training for sports parents. Click Here to get your free ebook: “The 10 Commandments for a Great Sports Parent”

What are some of your teachable moments you had with your kids? Let us know in the comments below…

 Craig Sigl, the Mental Toughness Trainer for Youth AthletesI’m Craig Sigl, the Mental Toughness Trainer for Youth Athletes

Welcome to the Winner’s Circle!

2 thoughts on “Sometimes It Is TOUGH Being A Sports Parent

  1. DK

    Our son, a 16yr hockey player bought into consistant hard work, pushing himself every workout only after he saw the measured results months later. It was my husbands committment to train with our son regularly and show him what consistant hard work was, that helped our son get over the hump, to realize what was necessary if he wanted to have success in his training. Now he pushes himself and loves training on his own. They both had fun and enjoyed the bonding time too.

    1. Craig

      Hi DK,
      Your son is very lucky to have you both. Congrats on raising a fine young man! He will go far having learned these lessons at such a young age. Many people never learn these lessons of mental toughness. Thanks for comment!


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