Understanding the Role of Parents & Athletes

There is only one guarantee during a normal athletic season not everything will go exactly as planned.   As a result, certain team issues may arise related to individual and team interaction. In an effort to minimize these types of situations, it is essential that athletes and parents have an understanding of their role in the process.

The following is a breakdown of expectations between athletes and parents that was part of educational material used by Redmond High School in Washington:

Athlete’s Role:

• Be a member of this program for fun

• Be humble when our teams win and when we lose

• Respect and abide by the coaches rules

• Put the team ahead of yourself in every situation

• Accept decisions made by those in authority

• Demonstrate respect to the opponents cheer team, coaches and teammates

• Be accountable for your own actions

• Develop a teachable spirit that allows you to take correction as a compliment

• Accept and embrace the discipline involved in your sport because it benefits the team

• Develop the feeling of pride, based upon “shared joy” of the team and not have pride be shown in

arrogance or a sense of entitlement

• Be a person of character

Parent’s Role:

• Attend as many games/performances as possible

• Be a model not a critic – model appropriate behavior, poise and confidence

• Do everything possible to make the experience positive for your child and others

• View the performance with team goals in mind

• Attempt to relieve competitive pressure within the team, not increase it

• Release the players to the coach and the team

• Look upon opponents as children in the same experience

• Accept the judgment of the coach

• Be an encourager – encourage team members to keep perspective in both victory and defeat

• Be a good listener

• Accept the goals, roles and achievements of your child


And here are four tips for how parents can help their child understand their role to navigate through the challenges of participating on a high school sports team:

Practice Conflict Resolution: In the heat of competition and in determining who gets playing time, conflicts can arise between your athlete and either the coach or members of the team. Navigating these turbulent waters requires a spirit of tolerance and patience. Your child may lash out. The cooler head prevails. As a parent, you can help your child gain perspective and determine the best path to resolving the conflict.

Convey the Positive: It can be painful to watch your athlete struggle through a losing contest. After the game, focus on what went right and be sure to talk about that afterwards. There is honor in handling defeat with grace and poise.

Keep an open door and listen: Active listening might sound like a trendy Psych 101 idea, but when put into practice, a gripe session with boundaries firmly established can re-energize your player .

Keep it fun: Sport is an inherently joyful experience. Remember to joke around with your athlete and take steps to keep a smile on their face.