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THE GREAT EIGHT – Qualities Essential to Becoming a Successful Sports Parent

With kids sports starting back up, Buzz Contributor Steve Morris offers “The Great Eight,” qualities essential to becoming a successful sports parent.

So you think it’s as easy as sign up, pay up and show up? Nothing more is required of you as the parent of a soccer-basketball-flag football-baseball-tennis-or-any-other-sport superstar in the making?

Well you’re right. Almost. This bare minimum of parental participation is preferable to the loud, overbearing, and intrusive presence or the other extreme’s unreliable, uninvolved ghost of a supporter.

In the interests of making your youth sports experience nothing less than exceptional, let me present the Great Eight, a list of the qualities one should embrace and fervently practice.

1. Be Pro-active – Blindly committing to a sports program for your child could be a prescription for disaster. Do your due diligence. Check out the organization’s principles, its coaches, and the financials you may be committing your kid – and yourself – to before you sign on the dotted line. Knowledge is survival.

2. Have Patience – A Hall of Fame career takes years to build. And your jangly-limbed, gap-toothed eight-year-old prodigy is no Hall of Famer. Development of skills, game IQ and the intangibles necessary to win take time. Kids have bad games, land on bad teams and suffer through bad coaches — all part of the learning process. Don’t panic. Breathe.

3. Be Supportive – Always remember — this is your kid’s journey, not yours. Your role is as an advocate for his/her experience. You get to feed, drive, cheer and be a shoulder. And then —

4. Exercise Restraint – Agony and ecstasy are but a shot, a swing, or a kick away. When our kids play well, life is beautiful. When their performances circle the drain, well, we often react in a more heated fashion. Check your impulse to correct, criticize, or engage in conversations at fraught and vulnerable times – like the car ride home or the dinner table. Steer clear of the officials. Don’t corner, call or text the coach. No victories to be had in any these interactions.

5. Be Respectful – “Honor the Game” means respecting the coaches, the officials, and the effort your — and every other kid — is putting in. It also means getting your kid to practices and games at the appointed times, as well as picking them up when required. Be a good teammate, parent-variety.

6. Be Clear-eyed – Youth sports isn’t all home runs, hat tricks and three-point baskets. It’s an arena ripe for manipulation and exploitation. Be ready to hear your kid described as the second coming if only you fork over $150/hour or $3,000/year…for hours upon hours, year after year. Fine tune your BS Meter and pump out enough push-ups to have the strength to say, “No.”

7. Have Perspective – Possibly the toughest quality to possess as it usually comes with time and experience. In the meantime, try to set achievable goals and temper your expectations. This is not your kid’s life. It’s but a chapter within his/her larger story.

8. Maintain a Sense of Humor Coaches and parents may carry on like it’s a World Cup final or the seventh game of the World Series. But these are kids. They’ll run the wrong way, pause to gawk at the gophers, trip over their saggy shorts. Celebrate the silliness, appreciate the irony, and realize that it will all be over way too soon. Relax. Enjoy.



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Steve Morris
Steve Morris
Steve Morris took a circuitous path to discover his life’s mission. From history major at Yale to TV commercial producer and terminally-aspiring screenwriter, it was Steve’s then-four-year-old who pushed him out onto the soccer field. He’s never left. As a coach, league administrator, camp director and founder of Coast Sports, Steve has dedicated his life to making sure that youth sports are fun, meaningful and memorable. He’s the author of What Size Balls Do I Need? A Road Map for Survival in the Dizzying World of Youth Sports.

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