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Information for Parents

The Role of Parents from US Lacrosse

You, the parent, are equally as important to your child's positive lacrosse experience as the coach of the team. In order for your child to get the most out of playing lacrosse, it is important that you do the following:

One:
Be supportive of your child by giving encouragement and showing an interest in his or her team. Positive reinforcement encourages learning and fun. Research has shown that a ratio of five positive statements (compliments, positive recognition) for each negative statement (criticisms, corrections) is ideal for helping young athletes do their best. Try to maintain a 5:1 ratio in your comments to your child.

Two:
Attend games whenever possible. If you cannot attend, ask about your child’s experience, not whether the team won or lost. Some questions that you might ask before asking about the final score include: "Did you try as hard as you could? Did you have fun? Did you learn anything today that might make you a better player in the future?"

Three:
Be a positive role model by displaying good sportsmanship at all times to coaches, officials,opponents and your child’s teammates. "Honoring the Game" is an important part of what US Lacrosse represents. Help us by honoring the game in your behavior as a spectator.

Four:
Let your child set his own goals and play the game for himself, herself. Be your child’s "home court advantage" by giving him or her your unconditional support regardless of how well he or she performs.

Five:
Let the coach coach. Refrain from giving your child advice when he or she is playing. Use positive reinforcement with your child’s coach. Let the coach know when he or she is doing a good job.

Six:
Respect the decisions of the referee or umpire. This is an important part of honoring the game. Your child will pay more attention to how you act than to what you say.

Seven:
Read the rulebook. A full understanding of the rules will help you enjoy the game and educate others.

Eight:
Get to know who is in charge. Meet with the leadership of the program, whether it’s school sponsored or recreational, to discuss topics such as cost, practice and game scheduling, insurance coverage, emergency procedures, etc.

Nine:
Get involved! A great way to support your child's lacrosse experience is by becoming a volunteer for the program. Some of the ways you can get involved: keep the scorebook, run the clock, line the fields, manage equipment, chaperone trips, raise funds, organize clinics and team social events, update the team web site, photograph players and organize carpooling.

Ten:
Sit back and enjoy the game. Remember, lacrosse is played for FUN.

What Makes a Nightmare Sport Parent -- And What Makes A Great One

Hundreds of college athletes were asked to think back: "What is your worst memory from playing youth and high school sports?"

Their overwhelming response: "The ride home from games with my parents."

The informal survey lasted three decades, initiated by two former longtime coaches who over time became staunch advocates for the player, for the adolescent, for the child. Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller of Proactive Coaching LLC are devoted to helping adults avoid becoming a nightmare sports parent, speaking at colleges, high schools and youth leagues to more than a million athletes, coaches and parents in the last 12 years.

Those same college athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame.

Their overwhelming response: "I love to watch you play."

There it is, from the mouths of babes who grew up to become college and professional athletes. Whether your child is just beginning T-ball or is a travel-team soccer all-star or survived the cuts for the high school varsity, parents take heed.

The vast majority of dads and moms that make rides home from games miserable for their children do so inadvertently. They aren't stereotypical horrendous sports parents, the ones who scream at referees, loudly second-guess coaches or berate their children. They are well-intentioned folks who can't help but initiate conversation about the contest before the sweat has dried on their child's uniform.

In the moments after a game, win or lose, kids desire distance. They make a rapid transition from athlete back to child. And they’d prefer if parents transitioned from spectator – or in many instances from coach – back to mom and dad. ASAP.

Brown (pictured below at podium), a high school and youth coach near Seattle for more than 30 years, says his research shows young athletes especially enjoy having their grandparents watch them perform.

"Overall, grandparents are more content than parents to simply enjoy watching the child participate," he says. "Kids recognize that."

A grandparent is more likely to offer a smile and a hug, say "I love watching you play," and leave it at that.

Meanwhile a parent might blurt out …

“Why did you swing at that high pitch when we talked about laying off it?"

"Stay focused even when you are on the bench.”

"You didn’t hustle back to your position on defense.”

"You would have won if the ref would have called that obvious foul.”

"Your coach didn't have the best team on the field when it mattered most.”

And on and on.

Sure, an element of truth might be evident in the remarks. But the young athlete doesn’t want to hear it immediately after the game. Not from a parent. Comments that undermine teammates, the coach or even officials run counter to everything the young player is taught. And instructional feedback was likely already mentioned by the coach.

"Let your child bring the game to you if they want to,” Brown says.

Brown and Miller, a longtime coach and college administrator, don't consider themselves experts, but instead use their platform to convey to parents what three generations of young athletes have told them.

"Everything we teach came from me asking players questions," Brown says. "When you have a trusting relationship with kids, you get honest answers. When you listen to young people speak from their heart, they offer a perspective that really resonates.”

So what’s the takeaway for parents?

"Sports is one of few places in a child's life where a parent can say, 'This is your thing,’ ” Miller says. "Athletics is one of the best ways for young people to take risks and deal with failure because the consequences aren’t fatal, they aren’t permanent. We’re talking about a game. So they usually don’t want or need a parent to rescue them when something goes wrong.

"Once you as a parent are assured the team is a safe environment, release your child to the coach and to the game. That way all successes are theirs, all failures are theirs."

And discussion on the ride home can be about a song on the radio or where to stop for a bite to eat. By the time you pull into the driveway, the relationship ought to have transformed from keenly interested spectator and athlete back to parent and child:

"We loved watching you play. … Now, how about that homework?"

FIVE SIGNS OF AN IDEAL SPORTS PARENT

Let’s hear it for the parents who do it right. In many respects, Brown and Miller say, it’s easier to be an ideal sports parent than a nightmare. “It takes less effort,” Miller says. “Sit back and enjoy.” Here’s what to do:

  • Cheer everybody on the team, not just your child:Parents should attend as many games as possible and be supportive, yet allow young athletes to find their own solutions. Don’t feel the need to come to their rescue at every crisis. Continue to make positive comments even when the team is struggling.
  • Model appropriate behavior:Contrary to the old saying, children do as you do, not as you say. When a parent projects poise, control and confidence, the young athlete is likely to do the same. And when a parent doesn’t dwell on a tough loss, the young athlete will be enormously appreciative.
  • Know what is suitable to discuss with the coach:The mental and physical treatment of your child is absolutely appropriate. So is seeking advice on ways to help your child improve. And if you are concerned about your child’s behavior in the team setting, bring that up with the coach. Taboo topics: Playing time, team strategy, and discussing team members other than your child.
  • Know your role:Everyone at a game is either a player, a coach, an official or a spectator. “It’s wise to choose only one of those roles at a time,” Brown says. “Some adults have the false impression that by being in a crowd, they become anonymous. People behaving poorly cannot hide.” Here’s a clue: If your child seems embarrassed by you, clean up your act.
  • Be a good listener and a great encourager:When your child is ready to talk about a game or has a question about the sport, be all ears. Then provide answers while being mindful of avoiding becoming a nightmare sports parent. Above all, be positive. Be your child's biggest fan. "Good athletes learn better when they seek their own answers," Brown says.

And, of course, don’t be sparing with those magic words: "I love watching you play."