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Sideline Do’s and Don’ts

  •  Be your child’s biggest fan by attending as many games as you can, offering support and encouragement.
  • Make your job on the sidelines that of your child’s unconditional positive supporter, especially when he/she is having a tough game. Let the coach be the one to offer up any criticism, skill pointers, or game strategy.
  • Becoming angry or letting your disappointment show when your child doesn’t perform well will leave him/her questioning whether this means you love her less. Instead, be supportive and help your child keep the competition in perspective.
  • Cheer and call out encouragement instead of directions. Cheer enthusiastically for great skills, not just for scoring.
  • Always cheer positively. Root for all the kids on the team, not just your own, and not against their opponents. “Sam, get the ball!” from the sidelines becomes, “Go Cobras” or “Go defense.”
  • Limit yourself to a few generic words of praise, such as “Great goal” “Nice pass” or “Go Cobras!” Doing so will not only take pressure off your child, but it will also inspire other parents to tone it down as well.
  • Smile, show confidence and faith in your child. Your child will watch you closely during a performance and will feel dejected by your cries of frustration, or shouts to try harder.
  • Thank the coaches, referees, or umpire at the end of the competition for their hard work.

  • Don’t yell at your child from the sidelines, as it only serves to confuse and potentially embarrass him/her. Doing so destroys your child’s concentration. Moreover, you put him/her in a no-win situation if you end up yelling out advice that contradicts that of her coach.
  • Do not lose your temper no matter how bad a call from a referee is or what your child’s opponent or their parents do or say. Walk off the stress or leave. Getting angry accomplishes nothing. Just as you don’t want your child to embarrass you, don’t embarrass him/her.
  • If you get more worked up and excited than your child, something’s wrong. Take a break from attending a game to regroup and gain perspective.
  • Watch nonverbal disapproving signals you give your child, particularly looks of disappointment or disgust. In addition, realize that being silent or not giving your child any feedback after a game will likely be taken as implicit criticism.
  • Put away your video camera, as it takes competitive performance pressure off your child and can make him/her feel self-conscious in the midst of a game.
  • Don’t shower your child with extravagant praise. Your child will quickly pick up on it, when you’re cheering madly and all he/she did was pass the ball once to a teammate.

  • Don’t offer your own negative critique about your child’s performance after a game. Your child most likely already feels badly about any mistakes he/she made.