July 06, 2009

Responsible Sports Parenting


While browsing the internet tonight I found a contest on twittermoms.com that posed this question: "As a parent, how do you encourage and reinforce the positive aspects of youth sports?"


Hmmmm..... I don't know. Do I? I know I encourage my son to do his best and to play fair. But do I truly reinforce the positive aspects of the sports I've put him in? To help me answer this question I visited ResponsibleSports.com, a program that's been put together by Liberty Mutual, Positive Coaching Alliance, US Youth Soccer, USA Hockey and the Amateur Softball Association.


Here's some of the info I found:

A Responsible Sports Parent fills two key roles:

  • Ensuring your youth athlete's safety
  • Helping your youth athlete apply life lessons from sports on and off the field

The major areas of safety that responsible sports parents must address are:

  • Conditioning
  • Hydration
  • Nutrition
  • Equipment
  • Injury Prevention and Treatment
  • Driving

Some possible positive goals of playing youth sports include:

  • Become a good athlete
  • Learn to play the sport
  • Win
  • Gain self-confidence
  • Learn to deal with defeat
  • Physical fitness
  • Learn "life lessons"
  • Have fun
  • Make friends


Well, I think I've done a pretty good job with reinforcing this positive aspects thus far. I've definitely gotten safety pretty much covered. I make sure to always have water for Little Man to drink and make sure he lays the bat down, rather than throwing it as he sometimes does at home.

As far as teaching him the positive life lessons? I think he's learned a lot in just the one year he's been playing youth sports. He's definitely made some friends and had a blast! I also know that he's beginning to understand that it's so important that you be the best on your team, but simply to give it your best. It was bitter sweet during the award party the coach threw for his indoor soccer team when they called each kid up and said how many goals they had each made.... and Little Man was the ONLY player that didn't make ANY goals during any games!! But he simply walked up, took his medal and proudly wore it home saying that he didn't make any goals, but he was still a good player! And he is!! :)

I think that in order to be responsible sports parents we need to step back and let our children learn at their own pace. Sure, it was a little disappointing that he didn't score any goals. But he'd played great! And he was a wonderful goaly! And we made sure that we told him that too! I liked to sit down and have a good conversation with Little Man after each practice and game (during both soccer and t-ball) and go over what happened at the practice. Even if all we really talked about was how he shared his bat with his team because they didn't all have their own. That's fine.... it's still teaching him how to be a team player! Way to go Little Man!


To learn more about being a responsible sports parent and about Liberty Mutual's program visit their website, ResponsibleSports.com

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