77 Mistakes Sports Parents Make With Their Kids
Don't Fall Into These Sports Parenting
Bill Cole, MS, MA
How is your sports relationship with your child? Are you
supporting your child in their sport the way they need to
be nurtured? Do you understand your child's sport experience?
Do you create an environment that helps develop your child
through their sport career? Do you maintain processes and
systems that encourage peak performance from your child in
their sports competitions?
As President of The International Mental Game Coaching Association
I certify coaches, coach kids and adults and consult to parents,
coaches and officials. I continually hear about parents who
make numerous mistakes in an effort to help their child navigate
the world of sport in their desire to achieve success. I've
been coaching for over 30 years and have seen these issues
up close and personal.
Take a look at these common mistakes parents make with their
child's sports experiences. How many of these would your child
say you make? How many of these can you avoid making?
Mistakes Parents Make With Their Kids In The World Of Sport
- Lecturing their child about the sport's techniques and
strategies when they never played the sport, or played at
a low level.
- Not understanding the culture, rules and expectations
in their child's sport.
- Not respecting individual differences in how their child
prepares for competition, and demanding that their child
prepare "one way" or "their way".
- Taking it as personal criticism when their child makes
requests for them to modify their parenting behavior.
- Criticizing, judging or lecturing their child about their
performance under pressure when they themselves have never
competed, or competed at a low level, and do not understand
the pressures of competition.
- Failing to create a supportive, organized environment
the day of competitions.
- Living vicariously through their child's sport experiences.
- Forcing their child to play the sports they played.
- Trying to coach their child when they are not a qualified
- Blurring the lines between being a coach and being a
parent for their child.
- Poor time management processes that hurry and overwhelm
- Making negative comments about other children, parents
- Excessively bragging about their child.
- Unrealistically overblown assessment of their child's
- Treating officials and staff with less than full respect.
- Rushing their child's early sport technique development,
when that should be the slowest, most careful period of
all, to gain solid fundamentals that last a lifetime, which
don't need to be corrected later in their career.
- Taking their child's sport experience too seriously,
and not mixing in the appropriate levels of fun and recreation.
- Placing their child into sports situations where they
- Not understanding the different cultures and performance
requirements of team sports versus individual sports.
- Creating guilt and pressure to perform in their child
by highlighting how many sacrifices they have made for their
child, and much money they have spent on the sport.
- Placing unwanted pressure on their child by framing competitions
as being "Must win", "Can't lose", "An important event",
"Critical competition", and the like.
- Simultaneously having too many teachers, coaches, trainers
who conflict in approach and technique, thereby confusing
- Contradicting the advice and guidance of their child's
teachers, trainers and coaches, leading to the child being
confused and being torn in loyalties.
- Pushing their child into a sport or competition before
they are ready.
- Expecting higher performances under pressure from their
child than they themselves can bring forth in their jobs,
sports or other activities.
- Making love and affection conditional on their child's
- Failing to realize when their child is in developmental
sports phases versus competitive sports phases.
- Failing to see the value of sports lessons as preparation
for life itself.
- Expecting their child to be a higher achiever in sports
than they were.
- Making sports bigger and more important than anything
else in their child's life.
- Allowing their child to specialize in one sport at too
young an age.
- Making their child inappropriately play injured or sick.
- Not realizing that their child can learn valuable sport
and life lessons even when they lose.
- Allowing their child to get away with poor behavior by
making excuses for it, or by failing to exert parental standards.
- Failing to support the behavior and communication guidelines
of teachers and coaches.
- Labeling their child a choker, mental case or other derogatory
- Failing to create the proper practice opportunities for
- Allowing their child to be bullied or picked on.
- Thinking that all sports technique is equal-not knowing
that some sports (golf and tennis to name two) are extremely
complex and detailed, and that their child should master
these high-technique sports as easily as others.
- Allowing or encouraging their child to coach hop-to continually
go from teacher to teacher in search of the perfect teacher/coach
or for someone who does not challenge them or their child.
- Failing to match their child's sport choice to their temperament,
sensibilities, talents and values.
- Viewing their child's worries and nerves before a contest
as a sign that they are not mentally prepared, not thinking
positively, or not confident.
- Projecting their own insecurities, worries and nervousness
about their child's performance onto their child, especially
before a competition.
- Allowing their child to be around negative people in the
- Failing to appreciate the complexity, difficulty and challenge
of their child's sport, and thereby minimizing their child's
- Minimizing, negating and explaining away the stress and
anxiety their child feels around the pressures of competition.
- Thinking their child's sport looks easy, and wondering
or asking why their child does not perform at a higher level.
- Failing to give their child time breaks from the sport
and competition, so they can recharge their batteries.
- Over-programming their child each day with school, homework,
extracurricular activities, sports and practice to where
they can't be a kid and just have fun.
- Planning on their child winning a college sports scholarship
and getting back all the money they put into their child's
- Unrealistically expecting their child to become a pro,
especially from a very young age.
- Calling their child a quitter when they want to stop sport
participation, rather than realizing that their child may
have good reasons to take a break or move into a different
sport or activity, just as they the parent would have in
- Comparing or favoring one child in the family to another,
rather than seeing each child's sport experience and talents
- Criticizing or arguing with their child in public.
- Fighting relationship battles their child should handle
in sport, thereby having their child lose out on valuable
- Being a stage parent in sport.
- Telling personal sports stories and drawing conclusions
from their days in competition that have no bearing on,
or contradict their child's sport experiences.
- Over-analyzing, over-talking or over-preparing with their
child before a competition.
- Announcing that "WE are playing an event", when only their
CHILD is participating.
- Not allowing their child to own their sport experience,
and thereby learn from their mistakes, and instead doing
everything for their child.
- Placing pressure on their child by having unfounded expectations
or by setting unrealistic goals.
- Expecting perfection in their child.
- Seeing what is lacking in their child, and not encouraging
what is good.
- Expecting too much in performance from their child's newer
- Pointing out nothing but their child's errors and mistakes
in an effort to be helpful.
- Performing a post-competition analysis sooner than their
child would like it.
- Asking "Did you win?" after a competition, rather than
saying something that carries less pressure.
- Failing to listen and to allow their child to process
their feelings after a difficult practice or stressful competition.
- Smothering their child, by hovering around every sport
activity their child attends, from practices to training
session to competitions (known as being a Helicopter Parent).
- Using the child's sport as leverage, or as a threat of
punishment for poor performance in other activities.
- Behaving in a distractingly obviously emotional, negative
or nervous manner from the sidelines where their child can
view them during a competition.
- Expecting complete dedication in the sport from their
child, who perhaps does NOT yet completely love the game.
- Yelling instructions and coaching comments to their child
in the heat of competitive battle, thereby either distracting
or confusing their child.
- Embarrassing their child by what they say or do at practices
- Failing to support or respect the coaching staff.
- Displaying poor sportsmanship.
- Failing to be a role model for the behaviors they want
their children to display.
You want the best for your child. One of the best ways to
achieve this is by understanding these parenting traps, and
by being personally aware of your behavior as a parent.
Copyright © 2006 Bill Cole, MS,
MA. All rights reserved.
The world of sport has its own culture, behaviors and expectations
and parents owe it to their child to understand the sports
world in which their child spends time. Keep this list in
mind and be aware of how you can best support your child in
their sport experiences.
If you are a parent reading this, you clearly want to help
your child improve their mental game. A complete mental training
program includes motivation and goal-setting, pre-event mental
preparation, post-event review and analysis, mental strengthening,
self-regulation training, breath control training, motor skill
training, mental rehearsal, concentration training, pressure-proofing,
communication training, confidence-building, breaking through
mental barriers, slump prevention, mental toughness training,
flow training, relaxation training, momentum training, psych-out
proofing and media training.
For a comprehensive overview of your child's mental abilities
you need an assessment instrument that identifies their complete
mental strengths and weaknesses. For a free, easy-to-take
sports psychology assessment tool, visit:
We offer extensive resources with which to improve your entire
mental game, for any sport or business application.
This article covers only one small part of the mental game.
A complete mental training program includes motivation and goal-setting,
pre-event mental preparation, post-event review and analysis,
mental strengthening, self-regulation training, breath control
training, motor skill training, mental rehearsal, concentration
training, pressure-proofing, communication training, confidence-building,
breaking through mental barriers, slump prevention, mental toughness
training, flow training, relaxation training, momentum training,
psych-out proofing and media training.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness
and coaching, is founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching
Bill is also founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps
organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports.
He is a multiple Hall of Fame honoree, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published
book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league
pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive
article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.
Article Source: https://www.MentalGameCoaching.com
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