Be A Parent, Not A Coach, At Your Kid's Game 

Photo: Markus Spiske, Pexels

With the change of season, kids are entering new seasons of youth sports, which means it is time for the regular reminder: Chill, parents.

Your little sports stars don’t need another coach. They have those already! What they need are mums and dads who sit on the sidelines with words of encouragement and orange slices.

Author and speaker Glennon Doyle laid it out on Instagram when she shared what her wife, two-time Olympic gold-medal soccer superstar Abby Wambach, says to their daughter after every soccer game.

Spoiler: It’s not a dissection of each play via Powerpoint, nor a rant about how the ref was freakin’ blind, nor a giddy rhapsody about how with a few more camps and clinics and private sessions, she could land a scholarship at Notre Dame. No, her words are much simpler.

From the post:

This is my wife and my daughter.

After every soccer game our daughter plays, my wife says one thing to her and asks one question of her:

1. It was so fun to watch you play!

2. How do you feel about the game?

Also: my wife is one of the greatest soccer players of all time. She knows what Tish did right and wrong and what she could do better next time. She knows!

But what My wife also knows is this: our daughter has a coach. She needs a mum.

This is the type of calm, loving support that kids need after running around in high-stakes action on the field. You know who’s a good model of this? Grandparents. In The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, author Jessica Lahey points to a survey of adult athletes, who were asked about their favourite and least favourite part of playing youth sports. Their least favourite? The tense ride home with their parents. And their favourite? When their grandparents watched them play.

Writes Lahey:

Grandparents don’t criticise or micromanage in the moments after the game. Grandparents don’t critique the coach’s strategy or a referee’s call. Even in the face of embarrassing failures on the field, grandparents support their grandchildren with no ulterior motive or agenda. So if you want to become the kind of person your child wants to be around after the big game, act more like a grandparent.

The advice goes beyond sports — even if you have a million thoughts about your kid’s performance at their piano recital or chess tournament or debate competition, you don’t need to voice them all after the big event. Let the joy of watching them be enough. For Grams and Gramps, it is.


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