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Caught In The Intensity Web and Experiencing "Tunnel Vision" On the Soccer Sidelines

Bad Things Can And Do Happen

In our soccer example, when the red team parents experience tunnel vision in the intensity web, their response can be either positive or negative. By calming down, a parent on the red team sideline may be able to get out of tunnel vision and, by seeing the big picture again, head off an ugly scene. When the coach or parent leader is not able to calm down the sideline and pull them out of tunnel vision bad things are likely to happen.

The bad results might include several of following:

  • A parent moves across the dividing line between parents and starts to confront them about their lack of class. This could end in a physical confrontation between parents. 
  • A parent verbally attacks a referee and may be cautioned about his behavior. If the referee does not handle the situation in a positive way, it may escalate into a red card, a parent ejection, or, worse, physical violence.
  • Red team parents may encourage their daughters to physically harm one of the blue team's stars. In the next close playing confrontation an elbow may be thrown to the face or a hard slide tackle made from behind, resulting in a potentially serious - even career ending - injury to the player. 
  • At the end of the game, a parent may physically confront an opposing player and push her to emphasize how mad he or she is.

Parents Don't Want To Get Stuck In Tunnel Vision

These are a few of the bad results that can and do happen when parents get caught in the tunnel vision part of the intensity web and do not have the skills to get out of a difficult situation. Chances are, if you asked the parents on the red team an hour before the game if they were in favor of violence in youth sports, they most likely would say no. They would tell you that they believed in good sportsmanship, that they want a healthy environment in which their children can play sports.

In the heat of the moment, however, as the intensity web is woven tighter and tighter, it is all too easy for a parent to end up with tunnel vision, their ability to make good decisions severely clouded. Parents literally, and figuratively, lose sight of what is important in youth sports. The inability to stay out of tunnel vision is often the reason parents act out at a youth sports contest.

How To Avoid Tunnel Vision

The good news is that disaster does not have to strike when parents move close to tunnel vision. Several types of interventions can help parents stay focused.

  1. Parent Training

    When parents have been through a good sports parent training class they will learn several skills to utilize that will help them stay more focused. When all a team's parents have completed parent training, they develop a comraderie on the sidelines that allows them to help each other keep things positive.

    When the team has built the expectation that only positive things will happen on the sideline, when one parent starts to cross the line, other parents will help them regain their focus and continue to behave appropriately.

  2. Performance Skills

    Just like athletes, parents on the sidelines can improve their performance as spectators by learning and practicing such techniques as relaxation their bodies and mind and rhythmic breathing. To learn more about the performance skills I recommend parents learn to avoid tunnel vision, click here.

Remember: parents are not helpless when it comes to getting caught in the Intensity Web. Parents do not have to experience Tunnel Vision. By learning performance parenting techniques and practicing them on the sidelines, chances are you will enjoy watching your child play sports much, much more. And by making the sideline a healthier and safer place, you will see your child, and everyone else's, play better and have more fun. After all, fun is what youth sports should be all about!