The Role of the Parent in Sports Teams
The role of the parent in a sports team is an important one but not one which should be overstated. This is, of course, assuming the sports team in question is a junior team. Parents have a vital role to play and in most cases, junior sports teams could not exist without their help and assistance – but it is easy for parents to get carried away in the excitement and believe themselves to be more important to the team than they really are. Essentially the parent’s role in a sports team is to do practical tasks such as cleaning kit and taking their children to practice and matches, and to encourage and support the team. Their role is not one of a secondary coach and parents must be wary of behaving in this manner.
Practical HelpThe role where parents most come to the fore is in that of practical help. Most junior sports teams are run by volunteers and therefore also need parents’ help to make things run smoothly. This will usually be in the case of the infamous mum or dad’s taxi. Children will need taking to training and matches and collecting again. This usually falls to the parent, whether they do all of the travelling or work out a rota system with another parent. Often, parents will also help with practical things such as kit washing. Children cannot really do this for themselves and to ensure all of the kit does get washed ready for next time, it makes sense for one person to do it all. So, there may be a US style soccer mom, whose nominated job is the washing, or parents may take it in turns. Whichever it is though, it is a vital role, however menial it may seem.
SupportersThe most important thing to remember when encouraging youngsters to play sport is that they need to be supported and encouraged, especially by their parents. It is therefore, the role of the parents to make sure they are motivated, however badly they feel they are playing. While their teammates and coach may let them know if they are playing badly, when the child comes to their parents, they will need and want encouragement and an assertion that they can only do their best. If they cannot find this reassurance from their parents then they will quickly become disillusioned with sport.
What The Parent Is NotThe parent is not there to be a coach and is certainly not there to shout at the team, whether it is their child or their teammates. Parents must be careful not to apportion blame but to praise the team if they have done well and console them if they have done badly.
Children’s sport is very different from adults and parents have to bear in mind that their actions may determine their youngsters’ enjoyment and appreciation of the sport. Leave the coaching to the coach and make sure that your children only hear positives from you as a parent – whether it is congratulations or consolations – or you may be the cause of turning them off sport forever.