A couple weeks ago, my son Edwin, 9, played in his first “Gus Macker” 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament.

If you’re familiar with it, you’ll agree it’s a different form of basketball that is more physical, and a lot of the normal “rules” of the game have some gray areas to them when playing 3-on-3. It was definitely an eye-opening experience for him, and I was very proud of how he conducted himself and competed throughout his first experience. He played hard, especially on defense. He hustled. He took open shots when he had the opportunity, and made some great passes. He and his team left his parents feeling pretty darn proud!

I tend to be very competitive and watching him play brought back a lot of memories for myself. I did my best to be a father and spectator, and honestly enjoyed the whole weekend. I also witnessed some actions by other parents that was alarming. One parent physically removed his son from a game, and then loudly berated him on the sidelines. This occurred because the player had lost control of his emotions during the game on the court and was emotionally and physically out of control. One lesson to be learned from that, whether it’s during a sporting event, or at home, or anywhere else, quite frankly, is that a parent should not meet the emotional or anger level of their child with more emotion and anger. Yelling at your child is occasionally necessary, but in my opinion, when your child is already obviously upset and has lost control of their emotions, to meet their status with your own anger and out-of-control emotion is not going to help. And it does not set much of an example for the child. Remember that you’re the adult. Please.

I came across the following on the website “basketballforcoaches.com” and thought I would share. As the fall seasons begin to ramp up, I think we can all learn a bit from these ideas!

1. Please Remember Your Role During Games

It’s incredibly important that everyone who attends youth sport remembers what their roles are during a game.

n We have coaches to coach the game.

n We have referees to referee the game.

n We have players to play the game.

n And we have spectators to spectate the game.

A parent’s role consists of watching the game and providing support for your child and the other players on the court.

“Providing support: does not mean screaming out to the players, throwing your hands in the air when a player makes a mistake, or displaying terrible body language.

I know it can be a rollercoaster of thoughts and feelings watching your kids competing against other kids, but parents must be able to control their emotions.

Sit back, enjoy the game, smile, and support the players with a clap or cheer after they make a good play.

Which leads to my next important point:

2. Please stop coaching from the sidelines.

Reiterating my point above, your role at the game is to watch and enjoy the game, not to coach.

By all means, if coaching is something that you want to pursue there are many clubs all over the world who are constantly looking for coaches of all levels. I encourage you to sign up.

But if you’re attending a game as a spectator, do not coach your child or any other players from the sidelines.

For example:

n “Get on #10. He’s killing you guys!”

n “Shoot it!”

n “Get up the court and pressure them!”

The reason this is detrimental to your child and the rest of the team is because they’ll be receiving conflicting messages from you and the coach.

Conflicting messages = confusion = stress = poor performance.

It’s much better for the entire team if you sit back and allow the coach to do their job.

3. Please stop creating entitled children

“We are in the trophy generation. Give them a trophy for 23rd place. That makes the parents happy.” – Tom Izzo

Youth sports is a fantastic opportunity for players to learn how to deal with their emotions and experience failure in a safe environment.

Yet despite their good intentions, too many parents are unknowingly robbing their children of experiencing and learning these incredibly important life lessons.

Adults need to stop springing to the rescue and “saving” their child every time something negative happens or the child feels a little upset.

Kid: “I hate my basketball team. I want to play on another team.”

Adult: “OK, don’t worry. I’ll get you moved ASAP!”

Kid: ”Johnny got a trophy. Why didn’t I get one? That’s unfair.”

Adult: “You’re right. You deserve one. I’ll make sure you get one next year.”

And to make matters worse, after all of this “babying” of children throughout their youth, us adults have the nerve to say, “Why are today’s kids so entitled? I was never like that when I was young!”

The children participating in youth sports today are a product of the environment we’ve created and raised them in.

That’s on us.

Youth players are fully aware that if they’re upset about something, their parents will save them from it. And most take full advantage of this fact.

We must change our ways and allow players to experience and learn how to deal with emotions and how to handle failure.

It won’t kill them, I promise.

4. Please stop undermining coaching decisions

There’s nothing that will kill the respect and trust a child has for their coach quicker than a parent undermining the coach’s decisions.

This usually happens in two ways:

1. Validating that the coach is wrong.

Kid: “Why don’t I get to dribble the basketball up the court like Jimmy?”

Dad: “Because your coach is an idiot.”

2. Putting negative opinions in the player’s head.

Dad: “I can’t believe your coach doesn’t start you on the court! He has no idea how to coach a basketball team!”

By having conversations like these with your son or daughter, you’re increasing the chances that the player will stop listening to the coach.

And these words won’t only stick with your child—you can be sure that these words will be passed out to the other players, too.

The reason that many parents have these conversations with their children is in an attempt to shift the blame that players are putting on themselves.

If the child is upset, parents believe they’re helping their child by blaming the coach and taking the burden off the player.

While this might help them in the short term, it definitely won’t help the team or the individual player long term.

All of this is not to say that the coach is always right. But if you have concerns or disagree with something the coach is doing, you should be discussing that with the coach.

Not your child.

Finally, I want to acknowledge that 99 percent of parents have their heart in the right place.

They push their children to train and perform because they want them to have the highest possible chance of succeeding.

They encourage or allow them to specialize because they believe it will give them an edge over their competition.

They protect their children by shifting blame to the coaches, referees, or even quality of the facilities.

Unfortunately, most parents aren’t aware that many of their actions aren’t in the best interests of the players and can even negatively affect their chances of future success.

Going forward, we all need to put a bigger focus on putting the needs of the players first. When at a game, or talking to your child after the game, I’d love to offer three questions.

1. Does it need to be said?

2. Does it need to be said by me?

3. Does it need to be said by me, right now?

I welcome your feedback, as always! Any questions or comments can be sent to DrNic@gieblerchiropractic.com.