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My Ten Commandments for Youth Sports

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TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR PARENTS WITH ATHLETIC CHILDREN By Bob Bigelow, Youth Sports Expert & Community Speaker, © 2008

  1. Make sure your children know that win or lose, scared or heroic, you love them, appreciate their efforts, and are not disappointed in them.
  2. Try your best to be completely honest about you child’s athletic capability, their competitive attitude, sportsmanship, and actual skill level.
  3. Be helpful but don’t coach them on the way to the rink, pool, or track or on the way back or at breakfast, and so on. It is tough not to, but it is a lot tougher for the child to be inundated with advice, pep talks and often critical instruction.
  4. Teach them to enjoy the thrill of competition, to be “out there trying”, to be working to improve their skills and attitudes.
  5. Try not to relive your athletic life through your children in a way that creates pressure; you fumbled, too, you lost as well as won. You were frightened, you backed off at times, and you were not always heroic. Don’t pressure them because of your lost pride.
  6. Don’t compete with the coach. If the coach becomes an authority figure, it will run from enchantment to disenchantment, etc. with your athlete.
  7. Don’t compare the skill, courage, or attitudes of your children with other members of the team, at least within his/her hearing.
  8. Get to know the coach so that you can be assured that the philosophy, attitudes, ethics, and knowledge are such that you are happy to have your child under his/her leadership.
  9. Always remember that children tend to exaggerate, both when praised and when criticized. Temper your reaction and investigate before over-reacting.
  10. Make a point of understanding courage, and the fact that it is relative. Some of us can climb mountains, and are afraid to fight. Some of us will fight, but turn to jelly if a bee approaches. Everyone is frightened in certain areas. Explain that courage is not the absence of fear, but a means of doing something in spite of fear or discomfort. The job of a parent of an athletic child is a tough one, and it takes a lot of effort to do it well. It is worth all the effort when you hear your youngster say, “My parents really helped. I was lucky in this.”