Document 71340

How often are the joyful sounds of laughing children running around a soccer field,
gravitating to the ball like bees are drawn to honey, drowned out by parents screaming
at their players to “get the ball, run faster, score a goal, NOW!”
We have all witnessed accounts of competitive, agitated parents coaching from the bleachers at our
children’s sporting contests; a problem that has recently received local and national attention. USA
Today (Sept. 8, 1999) reported an extreme case in which the Northern Ohio Girls’ Soccer League
declared Oct. 3, 1999 “Silent Sunday.”
League President Al Soper felt that the loud-mouthed parents on the
sidelines were so severely affecting coaches, referees and players that it
was necessary to teach them a lesson by putting them on mute during
Parents struggle to
the game. “If parents don’t shut up,” Soper threatened, “they will be
encourage children to
asked to go to their cars.”
seek out a positive and
fun sporting
There are a variety of reasons why parental participation has become
experience while at
increasingly problematic in recent years. Sports are one facet of our
the same time wanting
society in which differing messages about what it means to be
them to “succeed” in
successful mesh, and at times, clash. As a parent, it’s natural to judge
your daughter’s successes by the look of determination in her eyes, the the competitive
environment that
brightness of her smile and the pride displayed on her face after
marks athletic
achieving a personal accomplishment. As a member of a society in
which success is often defined by wins versus losses and aptitude is
frequently measured by comparison, you may be inclined to judge your
child’s successes by the numbers of goals scored, baskets made, party
invitations received and A’s earned. Parents struggle to encourage
children to seek out a positive and fun sporting experience while at the same time wanting them to
“succeed” in the competitive environment that marks athletic participation. The line between being
supportive and applying too much pressure is a blurry one, and parents often rely solely on their
own judgement and experiences to behave in an appropriate
and compassionate manner.
How can parents know how to best guide their daughters in
their athletic endeavors? In March 2000, the Women’s Sports
Foundation made available the revised Parents’ Guide to Girls’
Sports (available at; a booklet
that is printed both in English and in Spanish. The guide is an
excellent resource for parents of young girls, as it focuses on
issues specific to girls’ sports. Topics discussed include:
How sports participation makes your daughter’s life
happier and healthier
How to deal with the terrific 2s (and 10s and 16s) of
your daughter’s sports development
8700 Watertown Plank Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226
TEL: (414) 805-7104
Special concerns for active, young girls
Tips to keep you, the parent, on your toes
What you need to know about coaching girls
Levels of your involvement: coach, volunteer or spectator?
The Parents’ Guide also offers two very valuable reference lists. These timeless guidelines are the
bibles of parenting female athletes:
Parents’ Game Plan: 10-Point Strategy
Young Athletes’ Bill of Rights
Next time you hear parents screaming at their daughter to “hit harder,” “score more threepointers” or “quit being a wimp,” rather than order them to spectate from the parking lot, you may
want to suggest that they read a copy of the Parents’ Guide to Girls’ Sports. With the help of this
new and improved resource, you can learn how to be supportive and encouraging without pushing
your daughter too hard. You will be better able to strike the difficult balance between assessing
your daughter’s success based on her happiness and enjoyment and measuring her success solely
by her accomplishments. Your influence will make a positive difference not only in your daughter’s
athletic career, but more importantly in her personal development into an assertive, confident
While enthusiasm and cheering can be inspiring, and it is natural to get caught up in the emotion of
the game, parents should take care to follow proper sideline etiquette.
1. Cheer, don’t coach. Avoid yelling specific instructions and
issuing commands. This can be extremely confusing for a
child and possibly contrary to the coach’s instruction.
2. Avoid running up and down the sidelines shouting. If you
want to follow the action, make sure that you don’t distract
the players or block the view of other spectators.
3. Keep some comments to yourself. Do not speak out to the
referee or linesman. Unless they are complimentary, do not
direct comments to the members of the opposition.
Remember parents can be red carded too!!
4. Stand, or sit, at least 3 to 5 yards back from the sidelines
(touchlines). This is a rule in many youth leagues.
5. Demonstrate good sportsmanship by applauding
exceptional moves by the opposition.
Practice silence. Sometimes it is more relaxing for both parents and players, and you will
likely view the game differently as well.
Ask your children if they like you to cheer. The answer may surprise you.
Be positive, never negative. If a child loses the ball, for example, “Way to hustle.” Is much
better than “You can get that ball.”
8700 Watertown Plank Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226
TEL: (414) 805-7104