Parenting a youth athlete is hard, complex and impossible to do perfectly. Every day there is an opportunity to trip up. Below is a list of questions you can ask yourself. This is for every parent or guardian of a youth athlete. My hope is that all parents will ask themselves these questions and that the answers will help inspire everyone to make, at the very least, some positive changes to how they interact with their athletes.
• Do I show as much enthusiasm for my son/daughter’s academic performance as I do for their achievements in sport?
• Have I told my son/daughter that their athletic performance does not define their self-worth and that they are always free to try other sports or activities?
• Did my athlete approach the coach directly with a problem or issue this year or did I do it for them?
• Have I told my athlete that they do not play sports for my benefit or for my satisfaction, but rather for their teammates, friends, and themselves? *Never hurts to remind them, despite how convinced we may be that they know this.
• Do I watch every minute of every practice? If so, why do I do that when I could be [insert activity]?
• Do I focus on my son/daughter’s work ethic and effort when praising them after a game or do I too often focus on their performance?
• Have I said anything negative about coaches or players on the team within earshot of my son/daughter?
• When I see problems in my association or team, do I work to help find a solution or just complain about the issues?
• Do I compare my son/daughter to other players?
• Does my son/daughter sit quietly in the car ride home from games while I do all the talking (often, about the game)? If so, here’s a hint: stop talking about the game.
• Have I spent time considering how to positively influence sport to enhance my son/daughter’s character rather than improving performance?
• Have I encouraged my son/daughter to be a leader and find ways to solve player conflicts on our team?
Josh Levine is the Assistant Coach of the Bloomington Jefferson Girls Varsity Hockey team and owner of The Fortis Academy. Fortis works with youth associations to implement skill development programs with all teams, from Mites to Bantams. The program includes parent education seminars, coaching clinics and Fortis skill-based practices. If you’re interested in learning more, shoot Josh an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Fortis on Facebook and Instagram.