It was probably in 2012 or 13, and it was the finals of a ‘B’ Division game between two of the best schools in Singapore. The stands were filled up with students, old boys and parents from both sides. While the behaviour of the students was exemplary throughout the game, the same could not be said for the adults.
Yup! Am talking about badly behaved sport parents and adults. This was one of the worse incidents that I have come across. I could hear adults shouting and yelling all sorts of instructions and expletives from the stands, jumping up to express their frustration and shouting to contest the referee’s decisions.
One parent absolutely took the cake! He actually tried to get closer to the field of play by pretending to be a photographer and started yelling at the player from the opposing team.
Why so much drama???? It’s literally only a game played by younglings!
While the last post’s discussion centred on adopting more of an autonomy-supportive style of coaching rather than a controlling one, this post’s focuses on the behaviour of parents and coaches. Here are some pointers to consider:
Tip 9: Do Not be rude towards players, other parents, coaches and officials
This one seems like common sense but the often ultra-competitive and sometimes fanatical context of youth sport makes these parents completely lose perspective. We sometimes see parents arguing with referees, coaches and even secretly scouting other competitors.
“If we want young players to be composed on the field then we adults ought to be able to do the same as we guide them through sport and life…”
Tip 10: Encourage, Encourage, Encourage!
This is going to sound really challenging especially in our local context – the best thing that a parent can do is to have an absolute absence of concern for results. Be supportive of them when they are winning and be even more supportive when they have the courage to fail.
It’s hard to be encouraging when we are constantly focused on the score though. When adults do that, the kids are learning that mistakes are NOT OK and that your love is conditional on winning. This has also implications on their composure, confidence and even their mental health.
Sometimes, being encouraging does not mean that you always have to be at all the training and competitions. I know more than a few youngsters who actually prefer their parent to not be present at games.
Tip 11: Model the Growth Mindset
If we want children to be composed on the field, we adults need to get a grip of our own emotions as we guide them through Sport and Life.
When we are deliberate about making use of the ESL model (view previous post) to provide feedback and to guide our own thinking, our own thoughts and emotions soon begin to shift as well. We are more likely to remain calm, supportive to model composure and the Growth Mindset.
Last but not least….
Tip 12: Don’t take yourself too seriously
As I am dishing out this advice, myself a psychology coach no less, have been guilty of losing it at games too. I wanted my team to win so badly and I went “wtf was that??!!!” I had to remind myself that I was an adult and that the players were going to get even more nervous if I behaved like a wreck.
We all mess up sometimes and these are opportunities to remind ourselves to be less reactive to our emotions and refocus on why children take part in sports (Tip 1), and that success without happiness is NOT a success (Tip 2).
That’s it! This is the final piece for ‘Sport Parenting Tips from a Non-Parent’. I hope that they’ve given you some insights into youth sport and I’d appreciate your comments below.