by Desiray W.
Growing up in society today a lot of parents want their child to be the best at everything they do and they want their child to succeed in a particular sport like they never got too. Some parents will do absolutely everything to push their child past their limits, and have unrealistic expectations for them. Parents coaching from the side lines seems to be getting more popular every year (see: http://www.athleticinsight.com/Vol10Iss3/ParentsComments.htm)
From what I observed being in the sport of gymnastics, there were many parents that would like to sit and watch their kid the entire practice and actually call them over and tell them what they need to be doing differently. These children felt more pressure when their parents were watching and did not seem to be having much fun as the other children. Most children that were always being coached from the sidelines by their parents tended to quit the sport earlier in life such as when they reached the age where they didn’t care about their parent’s opinion. I, on the other hand, never got coached from the sidelines. My mother would never come watch practice; she would only come watch competitions and at the time, I didn’t notice it but I think it had a lot to do with why I stayed in the sport so long and why I have become so passionate about it. It was because I was never required by my parents to meet any expectation. I set my own goals at my own pace. Seeing the other side of the spectrum by being a coach in a sport, I do not like when parents will come and watch a four-hour long practice and will be coaching their children from the sidelines. For one, that is my job, and two, it is impossible to coach to the best of your ability when you have a parent staring at you the entire time and talking about any little thing you may not be doing right.
From what we see and hear today in social media is that parents watching their children play sports are sometimes getting aggressive during their children’s sport games. They are screaming at referees and coaches from the sidelines. It can be argued that a separate, but equally important subset of parent aggression is verbal aggression. The psychological impact of verbal aggression can be just as detrimental to its intended target, especially if a person is repeatedly subjected to it over a period of time (Goldstein & Iso-Ahola, 2008). Parents are not only coaching their own kids from the sidelines but they are trying to tell other kids what to do which is terrible. A study by the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission, reported in 1999, that 45% of children surveyed and said that adults had called them names, yelled at them, and insulted them while they played sports. Even more disturbing, 17% reported that an adult had hit, kicked or slapped them while participating in sports (Shields, Bredemeier, LaVoi, & Power, 2005). This is not in any way going to promote positive youth development in sport nor contribute to any positive assets being acquired. These are negative memories that they will always remember and will affect the way they see that sport as a child.
Many feel that all sport organizations should have a meeting at the start of the sport season where the organizations preference will determine an adequate policy that all parents have to adhere by and clearly stating the consequences of their actions if not to follow the rules. Coaches should draw parents into the discussion instead of just lecturing them. Teach parents about the negative effects parenting from the side lines has on a child and how following this policy will be more beneficial to their child. (Smoll & Cumming, 2011)
Goldstein, J. D., & Iso-Ahola, S. E. (2008). Determinants of Parents’ Sideline-Rage Emotions and Behaviors at Youth Soccer Games. Journal Of Applied Social Psychology, 38(6), 1442-1462. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2008.00355.x
Shields, D., Bredemeier, B. L., LaVoi, N. M., & Power, F. C. (2005). The sport behaviour of youth, parents and coaches. Journal of Research in Character Education, 3 (1), 43-59.
Smoll, F. L., Cumming, S. P., & Smith, R. E. (2011). Enhancing coach-parent relationships in youth sports: Increasing harmony and minimizing hassle. International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching, 6(1), 13-26.
Other academic sources