This piece is inspired (and borrowed) from Michelle Woo because I thought it was worth a share. And I’ve regrettably been there.
As another sports season begins, it is time for the annual reminder: You are not the coach, unless you are.
Your little goalies and strikers (whatever that is) don’t need another coach. They have those. They’re called coaches. What they need are moms and dads who enjoy the sidelines with words of encouragement and organic snacks. And the occasional non-organic sugary drink.
Here’s what two-time Olympic gold-medal soccer star Abby Wambach, says to her daughter after every soccer game. Spoiler: It’s not a dissection of that one play, nor a rant about the ref, or some backhanded encouragement about how with more practice and a few more clinics (ugh), she’ll get it. No, her words are much simpler.
1. It was so fun to watch you play!
2. How do you feel about the game?
Her daughter has a coach, what she needs is a mom.
You know who’s a good model of this? Grandparents.
In her book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, Jessica Lahey points to a survey of adult athletes, who were asked about their favorite and least favorite part of playing youth sports. Their least favorite? The tense ride home with their parents. And their favorite? When their grandparents watched them play.
Grandparents tend to be less critical. They’re not thinking about your daughter’s future scholarship. Or concerned that your son is running the wrong way. They’re not embarrassed. They don’t feel pressure. Grandparents stay focused on what matters: The fun of the game. And when can we go to lunch because I can’t sit like this any longer.
So next time you’re out there, try and let the joy seeing your kid play be enough.
For Grams and Gramps, it is.