Children’s sports teams are a great way to encourage physical activity, develop social skills and allow kids to experience new situations. Whether this baseball season is your child’s first time up to bat at Little League, or they’re a seasoned high-school pro, parents have the unique role of spectator and supporter.
Your encouragement while your child is learning a new sport can help them develop confidence, self-determination and life-long healthy habits. If you’re nervous about your child participating in a team sport, don’t sweat it, we’ve got some tips on how to encourage your child to do their best, while helping you keep your cool.
Arrive Prepared to Play
When a child isn’t ready to play when they get to the field for either a practice or a game, it can cause delays for everyone involved. Prepping for game day requires a little forethought, and more than a little packing. Consider keeping a handy check-list of everything that needs to find its way into the trunk of the car, including:
Encourage independence in your child by having them help you make sure everything they need is packed and ready to go. This will help teach them accountability, responsibility, and the importance of coming prepared.
Preparation also includes making sure your child has enough fuel to get them through practice, and that they have healthy snacks to munch on between games. Sugar-free and low sodium snacks are the best options, with low-salt sunflower seeds being a flavorful and classic option to help fire-up your child and their teammates before the big game.
Trust the Coach
Showing your child that you respect and trust the decisions their coach makes when it comes to strategy and where different players will be positioned is a good way to teach them about thoughtfulness and civility. We all want to see our child thrive, and receive as much playing time as possible, but when it comes down to it, the coach is in charge of the team and will ultimately make the best choice to benefit the team.
We’ve probably all seen (or heard) the parents who heckle and bully the coach when they don’t see what they think should be happening on the field, but it’s important to remember that a lot of coaches volunteer their personal time. They commit to spending hours planning practices, drills and strategies to help your child learn the skills, and perform their best.
Support the Whole Team
Every child learns new skills at their own pace, and learning baseball may be easier or more difficult depending on the child and their experience. It’s important to support your own child through their achievements and potential mistakes, but it’s equally important to support the team as a whole. Encourage your child to lend a hand to a struggling teammate, and let them know it’s okay to ask for help if they need to lean on their teammates. Collaboration and teamwork is a vital part of not only team sports, but life, and showing your child that you value every part of the team and teaching them to offer support to their teammates is a lesson and skill that will reach far beyond the dugout.
Celebrate all the “Wins” Youth Sports Provides
When your child’s team wins a game (woohoo!) it’s a perfect chance to practice good sportsmanship by shaking the opposing team’s hands and letting them know they played a good game. Youth sports provides a solid foundation for a myriad of life skills and helps any child develop good character. It also sows the seeds of teamwork, camaraderie and goal setting as a team and individual. We call that a win/win.