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Parent Orientation Program

As the parent of a Little Leaguer, you are committed to making your child's sports experience as rewarding as possible.  Little League Baseball and Softball offers some tips on participating as a volunteer in your local league, as well as ways you can help develop the concepts of character, courage and loyalty in your Little Leaguer.

Being a Sports Parent

The Coach-Parent Relationship

 


The relationship between the coach and the parent is crucial in ensuring a player has a positive experience. Often times, miscommunication is the primary issue that arises within a team. This can be remedied if clear expectations of communication are established before the season starts. To help make sure coaches and parents are on the same page, here are the points of communication a parent should expect from their child’s coach:
~ The coach’s personal coaching philosophy, including his or her expectations of players.
~ All schedules (locations and times for practices and games that are available).
~ Team rules and requirements, as well as the consequences.
~ Emergency plans for injuries, weather, and other emergencies.

By addressing these points of communication before the season begins, all coaches, parents and players will be able to communicate effectively with each other to better be able to create a positive environment for everyone.

The following are guidelines for how sports parents can contribute to a Coach-Parent Partnership that benefits youth athletes.

Recognize the Coaches’ Commitment. Your child’s coaches have made a commitment that involves many hours of preparation beyond the time spent at practices and games. Quite likely in youth sports they are volunteers. Respect their commitment and imagine yourself in their place before approaching them to discuss any issues you may perceive.

Make Early, Positive Contact with the Coach. As soon as you know who will coach your child, contact those coaches to introduce yourself and offer any assistance you may provide. Establishing a positive relationship with the coaches will help you proactively shape a positive experience for your child and will lay the foundation for respectful, productive conversations with coaches should a conflict arise later.

Fill the Coach’s Emotional Tank. Too often, coaches hear only from parents who have complaints. Filling the coaches’ Emotional Tanks with specific, truthful praise positively reinforces them to continue doing the things you see as benefiting the youth athletes.

Don’t Put the Player in the Middle. You wouldn’t complain to your children about how poorly their math teacher explains fractions. Don’t share your disapproval of a coach with your children. Doing so may force the child to take sides, and not necessarily your side! If your child has an issue with the coach and can maturely articulate it, encourage your child to approach the coach and at the very least learn some life lessons in selfadvocacy with an authority figure. Otherwise, if you disapprove of how the coach handles a situation, seek a private meeting to discuss the matter.

Let Coaches Coach. It can confuse players to hear someone other than the coach yelling out instructions. Also, your instructions may counter the coaches’ strategy and tactics, undermining team performance.

Fill Your Child’s Emotional Tank. Competitive sports can be stressful to players. The last thing they need is your critiquing their performance…on top of what the coach may deliver and what they already are telling themselves. Let your children know you love and support them regardless of their performance.

Contribute to a Positive Environment. Fill all the players’ Emotional Tanks when you see them doing something well. Honor the Game as a spectator, respecting ROOTS (Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates and Self), and encourage others around you to Honor the Game.

 

Parent/Volunteer Pledge

* I will teach all children to play fair and do their best.
* I will positively support all managers, coaches and players.
* I will respect the decisions of the umpires.
* I will praise a good effort despite the outcome of the game.

Ten Tips For Youth Sports Parents

Rather than being concerned with scoreboard wins and losses, as a sports parent, you should keep your eye on the Big Picture – the life lessons in teamwork, resilience, overcoming adversity, communication skills, etc., that sports can uniquely teach.

Here are 10 tips for parents of kids in organized sports.

1. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of youth sports – we all want our children to succeed. But before your child’s season starts and emotions run high, write down your goals for your child in sports. Keep this list close by and refer back to it throughout the season to help maintain your focus on the bigger picture.

2. There are a lot of youth sports organizations out there. Take the time to evaluate options for where your child may play. Look at various organizations’ websites to understand their mission statements and what kind of training they offer their coaches. Talk to other parents whose kids have played in those organizations to learn what kind of experience they had. You may want to take as much care in this matter as you would in selecting the school your child should attend.

3. Learn the names of the other kids on the team, and during a game cheer positively for all the players…even the other team! You can try “no-verbs cheering” or otherwise limit yourself to shouts of encouragement. Either way, let coaches coach, and don’t confuse or overwhelm your child by shouting instruction from the sidelines or stands.

4. Sometimes, parents or other spectators behave in a way that feels out of place or just too intense for the situation – berating officials or screaming at their children or other players. You may be unsure how to respond. One key is to consistently model the appropriate behavior. Then, if you want to help an over-exuberant spectator, sometimes all it takes is a glance or a gesture, such as lowering your palms to indicate “calm down.” You might choose to distract them with conversation about another aspect of the game, or if you feel comfortable, you can remind them about the role of parents in upholding a positive sports culture.

5. After the game, resist the temptation to critique. Ask open-ended questions that elicit longer responses, “What was your favorite part of today’s practice?” Kids love sports so much they will even talk to their parents about it! When they do, listen. Put the phones away. Maintain eye contact. Nod and interject and smile so your child knows you’re engaged.

6. When you do have that conversation with your child about their teams or games, focus on the life lessons available from the experience. If your child seems discouraged by his or her performance, reinforce a sense of self-worth with “You’re the kind of person who…” statements: “I know you are disappointed with the loss, but one thing I like about you is you’re the type of person who bounces back and tries hard the next time.”

7. Coaches put a lot of time into planning practices and ensuring a successful season, so be sure to acknowledge their efforts often! Encourage your child to thank the coach after each game or practice. Offer to help the coaches however you can. That may mean anything from occasionally helping out at practice to creating the snack schedule or coordinating carpools. Coaches need parents’ support, and your children may appreciate seeing how enthusiastically you support their team.

8. One key to a positive relationship with your child’s coach is a pre-season parent meeting, where the coach explains his or her philosophy and goals for the season to the parents or guardians of all the players on the team. If any of your children’s coaches do not call such a meeting, be sure to ask about their goals so that you know what to expect.

9. If you’re asked to coach, or to be an assistant, strongly consider accepting! You do NOT need to be a sportspecific expert to provide a fun environment for kids to participate. Good organizations provide training and resources to coaches to help them do great work with their players. Remember, the top goal of a coach at this age is to be positive and create a fun and safe place for kids to play!

10. At every possible turn, let your children know that you love them unconditionally (by saying it!), regardless of their athletic performance.

Enjoy your child’s time in youth sports. It is fleeting, and you will want to look back, in conversation with your grown children, on the good old days.


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