Whether you’re the mother of a soccer, football, baseball, volleyball, or lacrosse player (no disrespect to the dozens of other sports that children are apt to play), there’s a certain art to being supportive, not overbearing, and a proud parent that isn’t embarrassing to her child. You have to walk the fine line between sitting on the sideline ignorant of the game and consequently, mute and being too educated about the game, coaching your child as well as his or her teammates, not always in conjunction with the actual coach’s guidance.
To help you navigate the exciting, albeit sometimes confusing, land of sports spectatorship, I’m going to share some Dos and Don’ts I’ve learned throughout the years (many of them through trial and error). It IS possible to be a great sports mom with a few simple parenting tricks.
Dress the Part
DO: Wear team colors.
DO NOT: Match anything other than your clothes to the team colors (e.g. no face paint, hair coloring, or body paint).
Be a Cheerleader
DO: Shout occasional encouragement (e.g. “Nice kick!” “Good pass!” or “Great hustle!”).
DO NOT: Attempt to coach your child (unless you are the actual team coach), disparage any player or official, or single out your child for something ordinary making it sound like he or she just landed on the moon (e.g. “Woohoo Amanda! You were totally ready to stop the ball if it came your way!”).
Support the WHOLE Team
DO: Learn the other players’ names and use it when shouting encouragement (as suggested above).
DO NOT: Create your own nicknames for players or use nicknames that your child has used for teammates UNLESS other spectators, including the child’s parents, are using the nickname.
DO: Tell your child after the game that you enjoyed watching him or her play and that you are proud of how much effort he or she put into the game (if that is true).
DO NOT: Criticize things your child did or didn’t do during the game.
DO: Be enthusiastic about the game.
DO NOT: Turn negative when things aren’t going well on the field/court. Instead, try to stay positive and help keep the team’s morale up.
Have Your Kid’s Back
DO: Advocate for your child if you feel the coach isn’t providing the right opportunities or training for your child.
DO NOT: Publicly criticize the coach in front of others. Save your disagreements and discussions for private conversations.
DO: Talk to and get to know other parents so that the team parents can support the team as a group.
DO NOT: Strike up random conversations that are awkward and make it obvious that you are making conversation for the sake of conversation rather than from a genuine interest in getting to know them.
Do Your Part
DO: Chip in for your fair share of snack duty and volunteering.
DO NOT: Go overboard either by bringing a snack that is much healthier or much unhealthier than what the other parents bring or by volunteering for EVERYTHING and then criticizing others for not doing their share or acting like a martyr for taking on so much.
DO: Bring provisions to ensure you are comfortable at the game.
DO NOT: Set up the Taj Mahal which will only result in others gawking at you either in jealousy or disbelief.
These are all mistakes I have made or seen made at my kids’ various sporting events. Do you have any to add? If so, please share them in the comments.