Being the Supportive Parent in Youth Flag Football
“Sports do not build character, they reveal it.” -Coach John Wooden
Cheering from the sidelines next to a packed cooler and folding chairs is an underdeveloped image of a supportive parent involved in youth flag football. At Play Fanatics, we value the key role that parents play in their child’s experience. From a parent’s interactions with coaches and referees, to their reactions from a win or loss, a parent’s demonstration of character and sportsmanship is invaluable. This character will reflect on the athlete. We believe that an athlete’s experience with Play Fanatics is guided by the parent, and therefore we have identified 5 tips to being a supportive flag football parent.
KEEP IT SIMPLE: The car ride to and from a game is monumental, because emotions are soaring high, therefore, keep conversations simple. As an athlete prepares for their performance on the field, avoid overwhelming them with instructions. This will only increase anxiety and remove the positive excitement from the fun experience that they are looking forward to. Subsequently, on the car ride home, avoid harboring over a loss or a less than ideal performance. Allow your child to freely express his or her feelings about the game, and be a lending ear. Overall, keep conversations light and simple!
SUPPORT THE TEAM: Always demonstrate sportsmanship by cheering for and supporting the entire team, rather than solely cheering for your own child. By cheering for others beyond your child, you are demonstrating an interest in the unit, and not just the individual. This, subsequently will encourage your child to value the effort of the team, as well. It will engender a strong sense of unity.
DEMONSTRATE SPORTSMANSHIP: A referee can sometimes appear to be a blessing or a curse, but nonetheless, referees hold an important role in the successful execution of the game. Always display a positive attitude towards referees. Refrain from expressing frustration or dissatisfaction with their calls. Demonstrate acceptance of their authority over the game, even when they make a decision against your liking.
CRITIQUE WITH CAUTION: From the stands, it is very easy to point out where your athlete could’ve done better to improve their game, however, avoid identifying every error that was made. A young athlete’s self-esteem can be very fragile, particularly if they are just becoming familiar with flag football. Therefore, communicate criticism gently and with care.
FOCUS ON THE FUN: Too many times, we allow our competitiveness to overshadow the true goal of children’s flag football. We highlight the score or the results of the game, rather than the bigger gain from the experience. The main goal is to have a great time! Encourage your child to focus on the thrill of running across the field or celebrating with teammates, highlight the new play that he or she successfully learned! Encourage your child to appreciate the experience rather than solely focusing on the results of the game. Focus on the fun!
Even through children’s flag football, parents can be a role model, demonstrate invaluable qualities and instill important lessons into their athlete. These qualities include sportsmanship, teamwork, effective communication, and so on! Be mindful of the tips throughout the season to create an overall positive and impactful experience for you and your athlete. Let’s work to make winners out of all of our athletes by being a positive role model for them!