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Youth Sports Reminders from A to Z

The Sporting Dad shares his philosophy.

Parental Reminders A to Z

Attend your child’s games whenever possible and actually watch them. You can be social with other parents but remember that the important stuff is taking place on the field.

Bring the coaches a sports drink, water, or energy bar every once in a while. They are usually so busy with your child that they forget about themselves.

Calm down. Relax and take a deep breath. Don’t you feel better now? Good. So remember this little exercise during the game.

Don’t take the coaches for granted. Teach your children to thank them after games and practices.

Easy on the referees and umpires. Many of them are parents who are out there so your kid has a safe environment to play in. Others are high school players who have just spent the day in classes and another two hours at practice. Please excuse them all for being less than perfect.

Forget about which team your child is on, even if for just half a game. Cheer for great effort and good sportsmanship by both sides. You just might be surprised by the smiles you inspire and new friends you create.

Greet the opposing team’s fans! I’ll often walk over to their cluster at halftime and welcome them to our town.

Help out afterwards. The coach’s kid is running around the field with his buddies and the poor guy is trying to clean up or carry 100 lbs of equipment to his car.

I always have problems with this letter. Forget about helping the coach for a few minutes and see if you can come up with anything.

Jerks! Everyone knows who they are. They are the parents who pace the sidelines yelling at their kid the entire game. I want to accidentally trip them but you didn’t read that here. Maybe engage them in a conversation about some guy who writes a column for Patch.

Know the rules. It will help you after the game when your little superstar is asking why the referee kept throwing the little yellow flag on the field.

Let your kid know that even after a tough loss where she walked in the winning run on a wild pitch and struck out three times, it was still a good effort. What more can you say? She knows things didn’t go as planned. Tell her the other team was a little better today. She faced a tough pitcher. Their hitters were on fire. There’s always the next practice to point out any adjustments that need to be made.

Make time to practice with your child. Even if you have zero game skills and can’t beat Grandma in a game of HORSE, just get out there. What better way of building a kid’s confidence than knowing he’s better than his parents at something? Have fun with it. Fall to the ground laughing when you get a lacrosse ball to the ______ (fill in the blank). Your injuries will heal in a few days but the stories he tells his friends will live on for years.

Never ride a bike without a helmet. Yeah, I’m talking to you! Your kids are all wearing them. Besides, let’s say you fall, smash your head on the pavement and end up in a long-term care facility for the rest of your life. Now your kid has to watch you being fed through a straw and drooling on your bib when all you had to do was put the darn helmet on in the first place!

Offer to help. We’re all busy. I get that. Now stop and think what your kid would be doing if we were all too busy. If you can make time to golf or cut the lawn, you can make time to help out your child’s league.

Put the newspaper, book, Smartphone, etc., down while your kid is on the field.

Quit making excuses. (That’s a daily reminder to me but feel free to use it.)

Resist the urge to criticize the coach in front of your child. It often puts them in an uncomfortable position.

Stick around after the game long enough to pay a compliment to one of your child’s coaches, a coach on the opposing team, or a game official.

Teach your child to seek out at least one opponent at the end of the game and pay them a compliment — especially if they’d been going at each other the entire game.

Underwear Bomber. Sorry. I was watching the coverage of it all morning. Scary stuff.

Verify what time practice is ending before you leave your child.

Whenever possible, hug and kiss your child in front of his friends after a game. It’s worth every second of whining on the way home.

XLII & XLVI: The two Super Bowls where the Giants beat the Patriots. Wrong article? Sorry.

You should make sure someone is in charge of coordinating something special for the coaches at the end of the season.

Zero tolerance for those who feel the need to act like idiots during youth sporting events. I say we should lock them in the Port-a-potty for the remainder of the season. But you didn’t read that one here.  

Bob M May 11, 2012 at 12:49 PM
I really wish every parent, player, coach and referee read this column. As a youth soccer coach we see and hear it all, except the mumbles on the other side of the field. Well done with the exception of the Super Bowl reference! I really like the one about having your daughter/son searching out an opponent after a game...its classy and since our towns seem to play against the same towns often, it builds a sort of friendship and mutual respect. As I coach I try to do this almost every game.
Sandra Grzelak May 11, 2012 at 02:15 PM
I would like to compliment you on a wonderful article. I am a Grandparent who attends most of my grandsons games and sometime do not like what I see and hear from the parents. I hope every parent and grandparent reads this article. Thank you for such wise advise. Sandy Grzelak
Ron Goralski May 11, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Thanks Bob and Sandra. Feel free to post to your Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Jay Goralski May 11, 2012 at 05:11 PM
I... Instill values your child can use to grow as an athlete and as a person. The most important moments in life happen after the final whistle is blown. Teach them the importance of trying their best because this applies to homework and studying as much as it applys to running out a ground ball or chasing down a ball carrier even though he or she may be long gone. Be a parent and teach your child that there is so much more to life than your next opponent. Sports are a privilege to be played by those who excell off the field first.
Ron Goralski May 11, 2012 at 07:15 PM
That's my boy.

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