It is important to be supportive of your child’s athletics without going overboard, which could jeopardize your child's spot on a team or make your child uninterested in the activity. Cheering, accepting and supporting coaches decisions, providing rides or food and making sure your athlete gets to practice on time will provide support without over-involvement.
Here are some tips for parents of student athletes:
1. When supporting your child in an athletic activity, be a spectator and cheer for your athlete and their teammates. Let the coach coach. Don't shout out instructions or criticize the coach from the stands or sideline. Also, stay away from trying to tell your child how to run a play or compete in an event. Coaches have a plan. If you do not trust the coach, remove your child from that team.
2. While you’re cheering, remain in the stands. Spectators belong in the stands, not on the field or court. Hovering by the bench or on the field may distract your athlete and the other players. As a parent, you are a spectator.
3. Give your athlete your full attention. Put down your phone or book and shout for joy, in praise or encouragement.
4. Being realistic about what your son or daughter can and does add to the team will help you to be an appropriate spectator. When a parent believes his or her youth is not getting enough playing time or not being used to their fullest potential, they tend to get over involved. Again, trust the coach and his or her plan for the program. If you are unsure of the plan and where your athlete stands, meet with the team leader in private.
5. You can show your support for your child in any activity and not be overbearing by making sure they stick to their commitment and accept the coaching they are getting.
6. Providing encouragement and helping out with team dinners or snacks for the athletes will also show support.
Remember, let the coaches coach and the players play, and sit back and enjoy the opportunity your child is getting to learn new skills, meet friends and handle success and disappointment.
Angee (Henry) Nott is a former University of Nebraska track athlete who was a three-time Big 12 champion and a 10-time All-American. She was inducted into the Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. She has coached track and cross country at Boys Town High School since 2004, where she is also an English teacher. She continues to empower her students to reach their potential on the track and in the classroom.