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5 Things To Keep From Your Athlete

Sometimes being a parent means that you know when to keep your mouth shut. This is especially true if your child is an athlete and you find yourself in the tempestuous world of youth sports.

There’s a lot of good things you should be saying to your kids before, during and after the games and that is the subject of another article. But let’s flip the coin: There are most definitely some things you do not want your athlete to know that you are thinking.

Here’s some things I learned that my kids did not need to hear from me as they played sports.

My doubts

About whether they’d make the team, be a starter, get playing time or even make progress on their skills. You may think you’re giving your child a dose of reality, but that reality check is often seen as “not believing in me.” Your child will know soon enough whether he can achieve his goals; no need to be the naysaying voice in his head.

My nervousness

I can’t tell you how many times I was very nervous before my kids’ games. It was nerves born out of the fact that I wanted them to do well and to be happy with their own performance. But as the saying goes, I never let them see me sweat. I knew they were dealing with their own nerves and didn’t need mine added to their plate.

My worries about getting hurt

I made the mistake of saying stuff like “Be careful!” or “Just don’t get hurt” on more than one occasion. Warnings like that are said more for us parents than they are for the kids because of course they are not going to intentionally get hurt.  And me reminding them of the risks of playing sports will only cause them to be over-anxious or maybe even hold back because of the fears I’ve planted in their heads. If they are being coached correctly, they already know how to play safe.

My unhappiness with the coach

If you are having real issues with the coach — perhaps you don’t like his game strategy or how he positions and plays his team — don’t dump your concerns on your child. Your child needs to relate to the coach without hearing your prejudicial remarks. Your negativity will cloud his perspective. Even if your athlete comes home venting his own frustrations with the coach, try to keep your negative assessments to yourself. Coach-bashing never resolves the issue.

My frustration with teammates

When your child plays on a team with selfish or “incompetent" athletes, there’s no need for you to point that out to him or even add fuel to his fire if he’s already upset about it. Listen to him vent, try to coach him through the issue, and don't diminish his frustration. This can all be done without you joining in on his rant.

Your kids will learn a lot of skills as they play sports. But there's one skill that you as a sports parent need to learn: the art of biting your tongue. It will save you a lot of unnecessary conflict and tension in your home.

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach's wife, writes a sports parenting blog called  Published from

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