Sports Parenting

What does US Soccer’s new mandates mean for you?

The implementation of US Soccer’s 2015 Player Development initiatives is right around the corner.  There has been lots of discussion on the topic, but few concrete answers, which is leaving many involved in youth soccer a bit confused and unsettled about what these changes will mean for players.  These initiatives are changing the youth soccer landscape completely, so there are a lot of unknowns for parents, coaches and players alike. The bottom line is, what’s best for the kids? Do these mandates help or hurt?

Here in Oregon, youth tryouts for club soccer are taking place May 9-14.  In this article we will take a closer look at the changes coming up, give our take on them, and what they will mean for the youth soccer community.
{SPINw is hosting Tryout Prep Mental Game Workshops to help players go into tryouts focused & confident}  -Click on the link below for more information and to register-

First off, why all the changes?  Why now?

Click here for a video explanation from US Soccer

According to US Soccer, here’s the reasoning behind the changes:

Despite the increased popularity of soccer and the success of our national teams, the youth soccer landscape at the entry level needs to be improved.
Our soccer culture at the youth level focuses on winning and results rather than focusing on developing the skills of individual players.
The concept of a team outweighs the importance of players having fun and developing to the best of their abilities.
As a country, we need coaches and parents to spend less time caring about wins and loses, and more time devoted to teaching individual skills.
Part of this initiative is to educate and empower coaches and parents to change the way we look at the sport.
One example of this […]

By |April 13th, 2016|Coaching, Preparation, Sports Parenting, Sports Psychology|2 Comments

What to do about abusive coaches

Coaches are teachers, motivators, amateur sport psychologists, and parental figures. A great coach can teach life lessons that go on well beyond the playing field, while a bad coach can make a young athlete hate sports and quit playing altogether. I was like many young athletes, figuring that the leap from a high school level to the collegiate level would mean not only higher competition, but better coaching, and wow, was I wrong about that.  A recent Sports Illustrated article details some disturbing stats about how collegiate athletes are treated by their coaches. (This podcast echos the article and is worth the listen).  In one study cited in the article:
“39% of women’s basketball players strongly agreed that “my head coach can be trusted.” 61% of these athletes do not trust the person who is suposed to be their biggest ally and advocate?  The article also goes on to say:

“Even more alarming, athletes have never been more psychologically vulnerable, reflecting a trend among all college students. The ACHA assessment found that 41% of athletes had “felt so depressed that it was difficult to function” and 52% had “felt overwhelming anxiety,” with the figures for women jumping to 45% and 59%, respectively. Further, 14% of athletes said they had “seriously considered suicide,” with 6% having attempted it.”
A similar article was written 5 years ago, but it doesn’t seem like much has changed, despite the assertion that:  “That shift has forced coaches to adjust. Abuse simply won’t be tolerated.”  But it still happens.  Within those 5 years we’ve seen Illinois football coach fired, video of Rutgers basketball coach throwing balls at a player while berating him, Florida football coach Jim McElwain curse out a player on national tv, and […]

Insights for sports parents heading into the new school year

Whether it’s your daughter’s first season of kindergarten soccer, or your son’s senior year at linebacker, parents can have the same nervous-wracking/exciting feelings the kid has as the season approaches. Throughout the season, you are bound to experience a wide range of emotions: joy, exhilaration, frustration, bewilderment, and anger. You will witness amazing displays of sportsmanship, jaw-dropping incompetence, and uncomfortable moments of conflict.  But it’s nothing compared to what your young athlete will go through, how they will experience it all.

Throughout it all, the main role of the sports parent is to know the Big Picture.

For kids, each game will be the most important event in their life!  You know that it’s just a blip on the long-term radar.  For kids, tryouts can make or break the whole year. You know that no matter how it goes, they will learn from it.  For kids, bad calls, disagreements with teammates and coaches, and bad bounces, might be proof that the world is against them. You know that all those things are a part of life, and how you deal with them is much more important that the situation itself.

But sometimes we parents can get caught up in the moment. Sometimes as parents we forget. As you approach this season, here are three important facts to help you remember to see sports in the Big Picture context of life.

1) A very small percentage of high school athletes will play in college. An even smaller amount will earn a scholarship to play in college. And an even smaller percentage will play in the pros.  Check out what the NCAA has to say about this.
If your child has college or professional aspirations, great!  Encourage them and support them, just […]

By |September 3rd, 2015|Sports Parenting, Sports Psychology|0 Comments

What would you do? Sport Parent edition

Most of us have seen the ABC show What Would You Do?  For those who haven’t, it’s a hidden camera show where actors act out pretty inappropriate conversations and actions in public.  Then the show captures the reactions of normal everyday people to see how they handle these super uncomfortable situations.  Host John Quinones then comes out of hiding to interview the unsuspecting citizens.
Sometimes, as a soccer parent, I’m left wondering where the cameras are hidden because I can’t believe I am watching adults act the way they are acting.  Of course, most of the games go on as they should – with supportive parents and family members cheering on their sons and daughters as they compete.  But there are others where the parents berate 14 year old referees, 10 year old players from the opposing team, and each other.  Those times when things just get way out of hand.
As a sports parent, most of us behave ourselves.  Maybe occasionally we’ll let a “come on ref!” slip out, but for the most part we keep it together, keep it respectful, and display positive sportsmanship.  But do we stand up when the bad apples act up?  Have we ever left a game thinking “I really should have said or done something!” when another parent got out of control?  It can be a really tricky situation, talking to a stranger, or even someone we know, about their behavior.  It can be uncomfortable!
So my question is, What would you do?   Here are a couple situations I’ve witnessed or heard about.  I’m sure you have witnessed or heard about stories like this to.   Did you have success with it?  Share your “what would you do” moment to help other […]

By |May 19th, 2014|Preparation, Sports Parenting, Sports Psychology|0 Comments

Be a Student of Parenting

by Brian Baxter

I had been talking to my new friend Thomas for about 5 minutes at a Christmas party before the conversation turned to our kids. We found that we shared an interest in coaching as well as being a good parent. After exchanging stories, we decided that you know what? Parenting is hard! He summed it up nicely: “The more I do this, the more I realize I am just a student of parenting.”

The notion of being a “student of parenting” struck a resonant chord with me. I played sports all my life, coached for 20 years and refereed for a couple years. And most recently, a sports parent for 6 years.  In my early days, I know what advice I gave people on sports parenting, and could easily tell them what to do. But, as with most things in life, it didn’t hit me until I experienced it for myself: “This is harder than it looks!”

That’s what my new friend learned, too. He’d been through a rough upbringing and work in a social worker environment where parenting was downright awful. He is determined to be the best dad he can be. Our paths had been different, but we had arrived in the same place: no, we’re not perfect, but we’re aware. Aware that we want the best for our kids, aware that we are not always doing what’s best for our kids, and aware that we can continue to adjust, learn, and grow.

STUDENT –  noun
          1.  a person formally engaged in learning, especially one enrolled in a school or college; pupil
          2. any person who studies, investigates, or examines thoughtfully
Students learn and improve over time, and take an active role in doing so. […]

By |April 1st, 2014|Sports Parenting, Sports Psychology|0 Comments

How to be a good sports parent

Brian was interviewed for this KGW piece on sports parenting.

by Cathy Marshall, KGW Staff

Posted on October 25, 2013 at 1:48 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 25 at 5:38 PM

PORTLAND — University of Portland basketball player Bryce Pressley said he has seen some out of control sports parents over the years.

“One time a parent ran onto the court and almost tried to hit his kid, but the ref caught him,” Pressley said. “It was over the top.”

Pilots soccer player Erin Dees said she’s been the target of frustrated parents.

“I’ve had parents yelling things at me that college students wouldn’t even say,” she said.

But both Dees and Pressley said their parents found the perfect words when the competition got tough.

“They would tell me to forget about it and move on to the next game,” Pressley remembered.

“Once I slipped on a goal kick. I looked like a Bozo but my dad told me not to worry about it because no one saw it,” Dees said. “A sense of humor is good.”

At Sports Psychology Institute Northwest, Brian Baxter offers seminars about how to parent successful athletes.

“The biggest mistake parents make is coaching from the sidelines,” he said. “Often times they’re telling their kids to do something contrary to what the coach is saying, so the child doesn’t know who to please.”

Baxter recommends parents focus on the three things within an athlete’s control: attitude, effort, and preparing for the game.

He said those are starting points for effective conversations, and a positive pre-game message is also important.

“Work hard and have fun. That’s all I say to my kids,” Baxter said.

Once the game is over, he said young athletes need space.

“On the car ride home it’s best to let everyone decompress. Maybe say one […]

By |October 28th, 2013|Golf, Sports Parenting, Sports Psychology|0 Comments

Great new book for Sports Parents

Over the past 20 years or so, the youth sports landscape has changed dramatically.  As a coach and sport psychology consultant, I am frequently approached by parents of young players who wonder about the next step.  

“Should my athlete play competitive or rec next year?”  

“What is the difference between this club team and that club team?”  

“We’re being asked to play this one sport year-round – should we do that?”

SPINw friend John O’Sullivan has a brand new book, Changing the Game, aimed at the sports parent that can help answer these questions, and help be the best sports parent possible.
.

When you think of youth sports and more specifically sports parents, most people think of:

          -poor behavior
          -living vicariously through kids
          -misplaced priorities

Basically, all the things we think are counter-productive to the youth sports experience.  O’Sullivan has put together a young athlete owner’s manual, to help parents avoid these obstacles, and as the subtitle says “Raise happy, high performing athletes, and give youth sports back to our kids.

For more information about John and his Changing the Game Project, click here.

By |August 9th, 2013|Positive Thinking, Sports Parenting|0 Comments