Be Your Childs Cheerleader Not Their Coach....

Be Your Childs Cheerleader Not Their Coach....

I know this blog is a little different than my others and its target audience maybe smaller but I feel like most people either have kids or grandkids or other family members in youth sports or you have friends who have kids in youth sports that could benefit from hearing this.

This year I started coaching the boys middle school soccer team at my kids school, so both boys are on the team, and from the other side of the field there is a huge perspective shift. At practice the kids are engaged, want to have fun, are talkative, and ready to work. When it’s game time a shift happens and it’s not a positive one, I become more of a therapist than a coach. This truly blew my mind. These young boys put so much pressure on themselves to be perfect, to not mess up, to be the best. It truly breaks my heart to watch them break down and beat themselves up. I was curious why they feel like they can’t make a mistake and I was truly mind blown that all of their answers were not the pressure from the coaches or their teammates but their parents. Read that again and let that sink in.

I had players crying on the sideline because “I know I can play better; my dad is going to be so mad at me.” To me telling a kid I was proud of him for using his left foot and he said “well my dad said my left foot sucks.” To watching a kid have so much confidence in himself to then hearing his parents yelling at him to “run faster, what is wrong with you.” His whole-body language changed, his shoulder sunk in, and sadness took over.  Kids throwing their hands up in the air and verbally yelling at themselves to show others “I know I messed up.”

One thing that truly bothers me is, at the end of game the boys are excited and can’t wait to high-five or hug their parents and within seconds of doing that they hear “what happened out there why didn’t you...." again the smile on their face goes away and then they have to explain to their parents why they were not perfect.

Listen I am not an everyone gets a trophy, we are all winners, equal playing time for all type of person, I am extremely competitive, probably more than I should be, I believe you earn your time, and the best players play. But I also believe that kids need coaches, and they need parents, and those two roles don’t need to intersect. The coach's job is to provide feedback on what players did well and what they need to improve on, then teach them how to improve, and the same goes for the team as a whole, what did the team do well, what do we need to work on in practice.

The parent’s role is to be their child’s cheerleader, to make sure you are their biggest fan, to let them hug you with excitement or cry on your shoulder if they need to. They don’t need to hear everything they did wrong, or what they need to improve on, because believe me they know, and they are already processing it. The coach will handle that part. You as the parent make sure your kid is having fun and make sure they know you are proud of them win or lose.

We all want our children to be the best that they can be, but I am going to say something that a lot of parents need to hear. Your child’s athletic performance and ability is not a direct reflection of YOU. Living through your child’s sports is not helpful to you or your child. I hear this a lot “if I had just put in more work when I was a kid, I could have been so much better so I know what they should be doing.” Or “when I was his/her age I lived for sports I practiced all the time, they need to do that too if they want to get better.”  Freeze, pause, your child is a WHOLEPERSON, they are not you, let them be who they are, not who you want them to be or who you think they should be. They need to figure out if that sport or sports in general is THEIR passion if they want to put in the work.

Now I know after reading that some people will get defensive, and the reason you get defensive is because you see yourself in this story. You might just be that parent. I want to challenge all parents to not say one negative thing to your player for the whole game, week, or season. I promise you, you will see a huge shift if your children’s emotions and mental toughness, when they know you have their back and that you are their cheerleader no matter how they play, it opens a whole new level of confidence for them. Stop with the BUTS. No more “Great game but….” “Great goal but….” “So happy you won but….” Just say the first part of the sentence and leave the rest to the coach.

I know it won’t be easy, but your job is to be their parent.

I would love to hear if you accepted the challenge and how it affected your player.

Back to blog

1 comment

This was such a great post! Parents need to be parents, coaches need to be coaches💕💕💕

Kirkby Margaret

Leave a comment