The Right Approach for Parents of Athletes

Tim Warsinskey, a sports writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer for more than 30 years, was inducted into the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association’s Hall of Fame this year.  In honor of Warsinskey’s induction, the Plain Dealer republished a column that he wrote in 2008 about how parents should act during high school sporting events.  Warsinskey’s view on this topic is timeless and worth highlighting as we head into 2016.  The following is a summary of his 10 tips.

No. 1. Have no expectations, for your child or the coach.  Warsinskey writes, “So many kids who are young all-stars will fade away. Even among the seemingly "sure bets" as sophomores, some will lose interest, quit, peak early, become ineligible or get kicked off the team.”  He reminisces that his son became a “better athlete than either of us {Warsinskey or his wife| ever were combined. It was an astonishing transformation, and you will be amazed at the kids who weren't stars at early ages who stick with it and become valuable varsity performers.”

No. 2. Give your kid space.  Warsinskey advises to let your child enjoy his or her “successful moments and figure out how to deal with defeat, failure and disappointment. Your job is to make sure your child does not get too high after a win or too low after a loss.”

No. 3. Have an objective view of your kid's ability and build on his or her strengths.  Warsinskey recommends that you don’t point  out what your child did wrong on the playing field unless he or she asks for constructive criticism.

No. 4. Let your child make decisions that matter, with one caveat: When he or she considers quitting, make the child understand quitting is not the first option. 

No. 5. Grades really are the most important thing. Understand that the odds are long that your son or daughter receive the opportunity for a college scholarship.

No. 6. Don't ignore injuries or signs of extreme mental and physical fatigue.  You owe it to your child to investigate even the slightest of injuries.

No. 7. Let your child fight his or her own battles with the coach, especially with regard to the No. 1 complaint: playing time.  Warsinskey suggests that if you do feel the need to talk to the coach, wait a day. “Let your emotions subside and think clearly about the point you want to make,” he writes.

No. 8. Support the team and be a good fan. “Volunteer, and don't wait to be asked,” Warsinskey says. “Attend booster club meetings. Get to know the other parents. Make your own positive experience in the stands, no matter what is going on below.”

No. 9. Understand these are competitive sports.  Warsinskey writes: “There's going to be disappointment, heartache, unfairness and injuries. Your kid is going to make mistakes. The coach will yell at him or her. That's what they do. Let it happen.”

No. 10. Enjoy the ride.  Most importantly, says Warsinskey, ‘It will go by fast. Hug your child when it's over.”

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