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.

    Sports Outreach: Reflecting Christ Through Sports

    One of the most read posts on the SportsPastor blog consistently has been my commentary on coach Tony Dungy.

    “There is just something different about him.” “He has different priorities than other people of his profession.” “You just sense a certain presence about him when you are around him.” What do all of these statements have in common? They are all statements made by sports writers in an attempt to describe what they perceive as positive character traits of Tony Dungy, head coach of the World Champion Indianapolis Colts. Tony Kornheiser, Billy Packer and others have recently made the comments above. They can almost put their finger on the fact that Tony Dungy is different because he is a sold out believer in Jesus Christ. It is obvious that the Spirit of God is in him. What a tremendous witness! In the last two seasons he has gone through the most horrific experience of losing his son to suicide and the most exciting moment in sports as victors of the Super Bowl. His response to trials and triumphs should be an example to us all that Christ can be seen in our highs and in our lows. I pray that all of us would have an opportunity for people to say of our witness, “There is just something different about them.”

    Over a year later I write this post with tears in my eyes. It actually happened to me. A humbling experience. An honor that in some small way I was able to represent and reflect Christ with my life. Here is how it happened:

    I coach a 4th grade basketball team out of my love for Christ, children, and sports. I normally coach in Christian leagues, but this year I had the opportunity to coach in a select city league. My two-fold goal is to help the kids build skills and character. I look at every moment as a teaching moment. I have learned how to strike a fine balance between fun and fundamentals in practice. I also strive for them to do their best at every game, even if that looks different on any given Saturday.

    Now that the season is over I can only glance at the trophy that represents an undefeated championship season and great memories for every child and their families. But I have a memory from this season that I will never forget. It was relayed to me by my friend and fellow coach that the alcoholic, unchurched father of our star player had pulled him aside after the championship game and said, “I sure like Derrek. He gives everything he has to make sure that the team is safe and successful, but there is something more… There is just something different about him. What is it?”, he asked. My friend and fellow coach replied, “He loves Jesus and it shows.”

    George Barna has said in many of his books on the unchurched that, “Many people remain unchurched because they have looked us (Christians) and do not especially like what they see.”

    Barna continues – “When God becomes the true priority in our lives, and when we imitate the heart of Christ and live in the power of the indwelling Spirit, what we represent will be irresistible.”

    Sports Outreach Ministry Summer Camp Report

    We have reached the conclusion of what many are calling the best summer of sports camps we have ever experienced. God gets the glory for the 248 young people that attended the three summer sports camps and for the 44 children that trusted Christ. This includes the 13 campers that heard the Gospel and responded last week during the Baseball/Softball Camp. Baseball/Softball Camp director Coach C. and a solid group of coaches, assistant coaches, high school group leaders, and volunteers made sure that each child had a safe and fun time at the camp. We were blessed with the best baseball/softball fields in the area. Thank you everyone for your prayers this summer. We were so grateful that the church staff and the entire church body were praying for the sports outreach ministry all summer long.

    I hope and pray that your church desires to reach your community for Christ. Each of you should look for ways to invest in the lives of the unchurched in your sphere of influence and invite them to your church. Sports are simply one of the most effective ways to reach out because they are a non-threatening way of connecting with people in your community through something as engaging as sports. It is also a way to invest in the lives of the children in your church and community and earn an opportunity to share the Gospel with them. Take a moment and think about how God could use you and your church to reach your community for Christ through sports.

    Let me know if you have any questions. I would be happy to be a resource for you.

    2007 Summer Football Camp

    “I love the principles that you are teaching the children in addition to just football skills. My son comes home every night repeating exactly what the coaches are teaching.”
    –Football Camp, Unchurched Dad

    Week in Review:
    Wednesday – Rain kept us inside at the local community college gymnasium, but we made the most of the first day and did more instruction and agility work than a normal camp day. Parents appreciated the fact that we had created a weather hotline that we gave the parents the number to call and we updated it each morning at 6am with the camp location based upon the weather. Fortunately, Wednesday would be our only day inside.

    Thursday – Dallas Cowboy greats, Darren Woodson and Roy Williams, made a special guest appearance to talk to the campers about football and character. Each athlete shared his testimony and commitment to living out his faith even though so many NFL players choose not to do so. The kids asked some great questions. My favorite being: When did you start playing football? Roy Williams answered that he was 5 years old and found a life preserver and used it as shoulder pads and begin to tackle everything in his path, including furniture and family.

    Friday – My favorite day because we had an opportunity to speak to the group about what it means to be a Christian Athlete. We presented the Good News that God loves them so much that he sent His only Son to die on the cross so that they may be forgiven if they believe in Jesus Christ. Eleven boys, ages 8-13, responded to the message and trusted Christ for their salvation. Praise the Lord!

    Saturday – All of the parents were invited to watch their child compete and scrimmage on this final day. We had volunteers from our church ready to hand our frozen lemonade to the families and provide for them a warm welcome. Over half of these families are not from our church. What a tremendous opportunity we have had to impact our commmunity for Christ, through sports. We were blessed with good weather despite uncertain forecasts. We were blessed to have access to the nicest fields in town. And finally, we were blessed with a coaching staff, camp director, and camp volunteers that love the Lord, love the game of football, and loved having the opportunity to encourage and teach the children how to build skills and build character!

    Top Podcasts for Church Leaders – Creative Pastors

    Podcast icon

    The Creative Pastors blog and podcast is another amazing resource for church leaders. Ed Young is the founding and Senior Pastor of Fellowship Church. FC started in 1990 with just 150 people, and now over 20,000 attend one of five campuses each weekend with four in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and one in Miami, Florida. Ed is the author of ten books and is seen nationally on USA Network each week. If you get a chance to catch Ed on USA Network you can see that his creativity goes far beyond his presentation of God’s Word, it extends to the design of the stage set as well. The most recent sermon uses sports to explain the importance of going beyond the bleachers and into the game. You guessed it…the stage was turned into a basketball court. Click on the link above to download it from iTunes. If you do not have iTunes go to the Apple Website to download it today. You will wonder how you ever lived without it. Many do not understand that you have so many cool possibilities for using iTunes beyond just owning an iPod.


    Check out the new navigation on the left as you read this (SPORTSPASTOR 2.0). To take you around the SP horn, SportsPastor 2.0 will be the home of my favorite Sports Talk and Chalk Talk. Sports Talk will include my favorite of the sports headlines of the week. I will give my biased opinions and laugh with you at some of the crazy things that happen in the world of sports. Chalk Talk will be a coaches corner or roundtable. If you like to talk coaching x’s and o’s this will be your favorite section of the blog. Share the latest skill or drill you are using because I will definitely be sharing my favorites along with some offense and defense strategies. Keep your eyes open for some special guests that will be blogging in this area in the Fall.