The Responsibility of the Parent in Youth Sports

A recent online poll conducted by Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine found that 64 percent of young athletes said they would rather play on a losing team for a coach whom they liked than to play for a winning team with a coach who they didn’t like. Most parents would never guess this about their kids. In fact, many would say, “Oh, he or she is just saying that – they don’t mean it.”

The truth is there are a number of things that parents do not realize when it comes to being a youth sports mom or dad. I highly recommend that youth sports coaches develop a code of conduct/ethics for your parents to sign prior to the season. Over-communicate your expectations and hold each parent or guardian accountable for their actions all season long.

Let me offer a few do’s and don’ts for your parents. First of all, a parent should not yell instruction, advice, or coaching tips to their child during the game. This will distract the child from the game or coach’s instruction, and honestly it is just embarrassing. Secondly, parents should be careful to avoid speaking negatively of another player on your team to anyone in the stands. You never know when the parents of the child you are talking about are within hearing distance and besides it it just plain tacky. In addition, they should never question your coaching strategies or decision-making in public. They should support you as coach and if you have a question or concern address it with you in private. Finally, a parent should never verbally abuse an umpire, referee, or other league volunteers or staff. Now for the do’s. Always be willing to cheer for a good play, no matter which team makes it. Always accept a win with humility and always accept a defeat with respect and sportsmanship.

When youth sports are done right the parents and young people follow the lead of a quality coach. That is why it is important at any level to have a parent meeting prior to the season to communicate your coaching philosophy, priorities, and most importantly your expectations for the parents. Be a leader that others are willing to follow. Focus on skills and character and remind the parents that character building is not solely your responsibility. Emphasize that you consider it a privilege to join them in helping their son or daughter develop skills essential to the sport and character lessons essential to life.


The Bill of Rights for Young Athletes
August 19, 2008, 3:43 pm
Filed under: children's sports, coaching, Coaching Youth Sports, parenting, youth sports

According to the Institute of Youth Sports at Michigan State, close to 75 percent of all kids who play organized sports stop playing sports entirely by the time they turn thirteen. In their fantastic book, How to Win at Sports Parenting, Jim and Janet Sundberg list the main reasons that young athletes give as their reasons for not continuing their sports journey. The list includes everything from loss of interest and too big of a time commitment to an experience with a bad coach or too much pressure from coach and family. The bottom line: It just was not fun anymore.

Youth Sports Parents are often guilty of living vicariously through their children or putting too much pressure on their children either from the bleachers or the sidelines. It is about time that young people had certain rights that guard their sports experience. What could keep a parent from deciding a child should specialize in one sport beginning in the 3rd grade? What rights should a young athlete have that parents and coaches need to consider as they seek to help their child to have a positive experience playing sports. That is why I am thankful that the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. They released the following statement that youth sports coaches and parents need to remember. They call it the Bill of Rights for Young Athletes. Check it out:

  • The right to participate in sports.
  • The right to participate at a level commensurate with each child’s developmental level.
  • The right to have qualified adult leadership.
  • The right to participate in safe and healthy environments.
  • The right of children to share in the leadership and decision-making of their sport participation.
  • The right to play as a child and not as an adult.
  • The right to proper preparation for participation in sports.
  • The right to an equal opportunity to strive for success.
  • The right to be treated with dignity.
  • The right to have fun in sports.
  • According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control, kids today are six times more likely to play a video game than engage in an outdoor activity/sport. This is not just an self esteem or emotional health issue – this is a physical health issue. Sports develop the mind, body, and soul. We cannot overlook the importance of youth sports in the lives of young people and we should not overlook the responsibility that parents and coaches have in this arena. If you are reading this blog post, accept the challenge to be a catalyst for change if you see any of these patterns in your child’s youth sports experience. It is all about the kids. It really is all about the kids.

    Primetime Passage – Philippians 4:8-9

    What do the Olympic opening ceremony, a win for the home team in a baseball game, and your tax dollars at work on a July evening have in common? They are all reasons to have a fireworks show. This summer I watched the fireworks high above the city of Frisco, Texas, on a beautiful July 4th evening and they were amazing. The best part of every fireworks show is the grand finale. For a good while you watch the fireworks come and go in a variety of patterns and colors, but everyone knows when the grand finale arrives. The pattern goes from come and go to shock and awe!

    When writing words of encouragement to the church in Philippi, the apostle Paul talks about the importance of maintaining Christian virtues, such as joy, gentleness, and peace. Paul’s words, as recorded in the New Testament book of Philippians, chapter 4, are nothing short of a fireworks show; in fact, they are the grand finale of his instruction:

    Philippians 4:8-9
    “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

    Consider the impact of each of these words in the life of a Christ-follower and the light they can bring to those who don’t know Jesus. For example, think about the word noble. This word implies integrity, something worthy of respect. We must as the question, “Do our lives win the respect of outsiders?” Do they see in us something that is different? Do our lives make them consider their own lives and make them want to change?

    Paul’s instructions are not only intended to direct my steps as a Christian, but he also recognized that when we live according to these virtues that other people will see the light of God in us. In other words, Paul is saying that believers should focus on what is morally and spiritually excellent. But he doesn’t end there. In addition to setting our minds on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable, Paul encourages believers to remember everything they have seen in his life, and to put them into practice. We too must move this truth off of the pages of Scripture and into our lives in order to gain a credible witness from which to share the gospel.

    Too often Christians today repeat everything that they have heard from Paul’s epistles (letters) and fail to actually put anything into practice. This only affirms the skeptical excuses of those that claim Christian hypocrisy is what keeps them from faith. One pastor has said that the greatest hindrance to the movement of Christ on the earth today is Christians. Another has said that the greatest cause of atheism is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, but deny him with their lifestyle.

    So here is the bottom line. I believe that the only way that our words are going to have any impact is if they are accompanied by action. We have the amazing word of God, the fireworks, and we fail to put these dynamite words into practice. If we are going to change the world, we must start with our own hearts and lives. Maybe then, will outsiders respond in shock and awe.

    Brett “the Jet” Favre

    Yes, Brett Favre is a New York Jet. Would you like proof that everyone still loves Brett Favre even though he hogged the headlines this summer like a baseball pitcher on steroids? Here is your proof: More than 6,500 Brett Favre New York Jets jerseys were sold on on Thursday, obliterating a previous sales record set last year., announced the numbers Friday, noting that the jerseys went on sale just after 6 a.m. Thursday, less than five hours after he was traded by the Green Bay Packers. The previous record of just 900 jerseys was set on Nov. 11, 2007, by none other than Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo.

    The story that was most interesting to me was the deal between the Jets and the Packers in the Brett “the Jet” Favre trade. He was traded for a “conditional draft pick” and some very important fine print.

    Here is the conditional draft pick breakdown: The draft pick traded for Favre turns into a third-round selection if he plays in 50 percent of the plays this season, a second-rounder if he plays in 70 percent of the plays and the Jets qualify for the playoffs, and a first-round pick if he plays in 80 percent of the plays and Jets make it to the Super Bowl.

    Even better than that is the fact that the Packers took great pains to ensure Favre would not be traded to the Vikings, or any other NFC North team, by inserting some very demanding fine print into the deal. If Favre were to be traded to any team in the Packers’ division, the Jets would have to surrender three first-round picks to Green Bay. The trade also includes provisions preventing a trade to another team if that new team were to trade him to the NFC North.

    So my dream team of Favre and Adrian Peterson (Vikings) playing together is simply that, just a dream. As far as Favre playing for the Jets…I just wish the Packers and Jets were scheduled to play each other this season. The only way that they could play each other would be if they met in the Super Bowl and that is obviously not going to happen.

    Extreme Makeover: Sports Edition

    One of my favorite TV shows is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. It is rare you will find me watching television that is not sports related, but this reality series has grabbed my heart and attention. Why? Because they provide not only a new home, but a custom home based upon the specific needs of a deserving family. The best part is that the entire community comes together to show love in a tangible way that will make a lasting impact on a family in need.

    Last night’s episode hit close to home for me. A blended family of seven were living in a house that was only 600 square feet, because they could not afford anything bigger. The father had grown up on the streets and made costly mistakes that he was determined his children would not make. The part that was special to me is that this family loved sports and both the mom and dad were youth sports coaches who serve the families in their community. They even run the concession stand at the local sports complex. Now the families in their community had a chance to serve them.

    So the family goes on vacation to Disney World for 7 days while the builders and volunteers from the community build them a brand new home. When they arrive home to see their new place they are informed that an anonymous donor paid off their mortgage. Wait. It gets better. West Virginia University also committed to cover tuition for all five children when they are ready to attend college.

    This is true community. If your church sports program is inward focused you are missing the point. You are missing a opportunity to share the love of Christ in word and deed. Our words alone are not going to change the world. It is when they are accompanied by loving acts of service that the world will stop in their tracks and wonder what motivated such compassion. And I know that for many on Extreme Makeover, they are giving back to their community as a means to reflect the love of Jesus to the world He came to save.