The Case For Active Kids: Sports Parent Etiquette


So, Junior is all set to start playing a sport.  Expectations are clear, everyone is excited and it’s Game On.   To make the season a success for everyone, the following points should be strictly adhered to:

Cheer for your team, not against the other team.  No parent wants their child being yelled at by another parent in the stands at for a “cheap shot”, “camping out in the lane”, or whatever derogatory remark describes the infraction.  Sports are about learning for all players and hopefully the kid with the “cheap shot” will be corrected by his coach or parent.  That is not your job.  Chances are good they know it was a poor choice and don’t need the humiliation of spectators pointing out their error.  Focus on your child, applaud the positives and leave the negatives alone.

Don’t coach from the sideline.  That is the coach’s job.  The coaches have organized the practices, run the drills, set up the plays and put together line ups for a reason:  so they can implement them during a game.  Don’t frustrate your child by calling your own play.  If you feel you can do a better job than the coach, your association will more than likely be asking for more volunteers next year – make sure you raise your hand then.

Wait 24 hours to talk to the coach.  Emotions are usually high in game situations and you won’t always agree with the way the coach runs the games, but waiting to discuss an issue until the next day will allow the adrenaline to dissipate and nerves to unwind.   Screaming at the coach in after the game for a bad play call: bad.   Maturely discussing your frustration by addressing specific points via email or phone call in a calm, non-accusatory tone: good.  Hind sight is always 20/20 and the coach is usually well aware of a bad play call.  Your child may also have a very different perspective of an incident that left you fuming and it’s always a good idea to remind yourself that it’s about them, not you.  If your player feels they were treated unfairly, encourage them to discuss it with the coach.  This is a great way for them gain valuable communication skills by talking with authority figures in a respectful, constructive manner and provides a fantastic opportunity for the child to take ownership of their own affairs.

Encourage effort, not results.  Success will never be measured by the tallies in the “win” column.   Putting forth the effort to master a skill requires patience and determination.  When the effort is there, the results will eventually follow.

Be nice to the other parents. You already have a common interest by having your children involved in the same sport and they are in the same boat for cost, time and emotional investment.  They may likely become your allies, your support, your social outlet, your informant and your carpool.  If Junior likes the sport and wants to continue playing you will likely be seeing a lot of these people in the future, so it’s good to start out on the right foot.



  1. Robert said

    You might add another one: “have fun watching your kid”. That’s essentially what it’s all about. Kids should have fun on the field and their parents should do the same. Later on there’s plenty of time to get serious…at the Olympics…:)

  2. Good point Robert. It should always be about having fun or why are you there in the first place.

  3. Ted Browne said

    Excellent. You should write for us!

    Ted Browne
    Beyond Athletic Life Lessons, Inc. (“BALL”)
    …Because sports is more than just a game!

  4. […] Etiquette for Sports Parents, Boundaries for Sports […]

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