### Mastering Parenting in Sports: Essential Tips for Success

Although not directly involved in shooting the ball or passing the puck, a sports parent plays a significant role in shaping the experience of the season, either by fostering positivity and enjoyment or by potentially turning it into a miserable ordeal.

In Golden Valley, Minnesota, certain essential elements are deemed crucial for a successful youth sports season. Firstly, having players who possess physical talent, a strong work ethic, and a team-oriented mindset is paramount. These players require coaches who are not only knowledgeable but also patient and adept at effectively communicating with their athletes.

One often overlooked aspect, which can be conspicuously absent yet profoundly impactful, is the presence of supportive sports parents. These parents play a vital role in bolstering the morale of the athletes and coaches, contributing to the enjoyment that spans across months of practices, games, and tournaments.

While sports parents may not be directly involved in the physical aspects of the game, their perspective and approach can significantly influence the overall experience. A sports parent who comprehends the essence of the sporting journey can contribute to making the season enjoyable and positive. Conversely, a parent who becomes overly involved, questions coaching decisions, or criticizes their child’s teammates can cast a shadow of negativity over the entire experience.

Hans Skulstad, a licensed therapist, performance specialist, and founder of MN Center for Sports and The Mind, has witnessed both ends of the spectrum. As a hockey dad, he has observed the detrimental effects of overcompetitive and unsupportive sports parents, as well as the positive impact of those who take joy in watching their children participate, learn, and evolve.

Skulstad emphasizes the importance of adopting a learning-oriented approach while watching games and supporting children in their sporting endeavors. By maintaining composure, being a supportive teammate to their child, and exercising restraint in challenging situations, sports parents can create a conducive environment for their children’s growth and development.

The key lies in conscious decision-making and proactive measures. Skulstad outlines a set of guidelines for sports parents to navigate the emotional highs and lows of games and seasons effectively:

  • Avoid Confusing with Defusing: Refrain from associating your child’s performance with your own self-worth or parenting success.
  • Strategize Your Response: Prepare a plan to handle the inevitable fluctuations during games or seasons, focusing on the bigger picture and utilizing calming techniques to stay composed.
  • Stay Mindful: Be conscious of external stressors that may affect your composure during games and be prepared to exert more effort to remain composed.
  • Set Intentions: Define how you wish to behave during games and stick to that plan, seeking feedback from others if needed to stay on track.
  • Steer Clear of Conflict: Avoid engaging in arguments with fans or parents of opposing teams, as winning such disputes rarely leads to a positive outcome.
  • Control Your Behavior: Identify triggers that may cause you to lose control and have strategies in place to manage them effectively.
  • Exercise Caution with Alcohol: Be mindful of the impact of alcohol consumption on your emotional state during games, as excessive drinking can impair your ability to stay composed.

Furthermore, Skulstad highlights the post-game scenario as another potential challenge for sports parents. Critiquing a child’s performance or questioning coaching decisions during the car ride home may not always be productive, especially as children grow older and form their own perspectives on their performance.

In conclusion, Skulstad emphasizes the significance of fostering a supportive and respectful community among sports parents. By prioritizing mutual respect, camaraderie, and positive encouragement, parents can contribute to creating a nurturing environment for young athletes to thrive and enjoy their sporting journey.