The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Sports Parents


  1. Highly effective sports parents embrace their role of being the parent.  They do not coach their child.  They do not try to experience every last moment of the sport along side their child.  They are their child’s parent, providing support, unconditional love, discipline and acceptance of their child for exactly who their child is.  They monitor their child for signs of physical injury or emotional burnout.
  2. Highly effective sports parents keep their eye on the big picture.  Looking beyond the success of a single practice or even a season, these parents understand the value of sports extends far beyond winning.  Traits like resiliency, goal setting and grit as well as a foundation for a lifetime of fitness are where the value of sports reside.  Furthermore, highly effective sport parents understand that children develop in fits and starts and that progress is not linear.
  3. Highly effective sports parents assume good faith in their child, their child’s coaches and officials.  Much like Covey’s seek first to understand then to be understood, highly effective sport parents seek out coaches who they trust, understand that children, even very talented and dedicated ones, will have rough days and that the officials are just people doing the best they can in their job.    Like all people, coaches, athletes and officials will mess up.  Highly effective sports parents will assume the best intentions of those involved.
  4. Highly effective sports parents keep their negative opinions to themselves.  They do not put their child in the middle of conflict or drama surrounding other parents, the coaches or the administration.   If there are problems or issues, those are worked out independently from the child.  They demonstrate exemplary sportsmanship, even when they think the referee missed a call or that their child merits more playing time.  They do not analyze the performance of their child or gossip about the performance of another child.
  5. Highly effective sports parents accept that adults make adult choices and do not burden their child with such choices.  Parents select their words carefully when discussing the sport, never using phrases like “investment in,” or “payback for” when talking about their child’s sport.  Children are not made to feel that they “owe” their parents some result because of the money spent on the sport.
  6. Highly effective sports parents keep their perspective on participation and ensure that their athlete is being responsible in other obligations.  School work, religious obligations and family events should remain essential part of a child’s life, even if that means missing some practices or games.
  7. Highly effective sports parents remember that it is their child (not them) doing the sport.  They remember that they had their turn being the child in a relationship.  They understand it is now their turn to be the adult.  They do not take over their child’s experience.  They monitor carefully their pronouns, avoiding “we” as in “we have a meet this weekend.”   And, while it is natural that a parent might feel some sense of loss when their child “retires,” they respect their child’s need for autonomy.