“Hey Mom, Can You Stay to Watch My New Routine?”: And 9 Other Times Parents Should Watch Practice

family watching the game

Earlier this week I wrote a blog that included 10 reasons why parents should not watch practice.

That said, I do not believe in banning parents from watching practice or even restricting the times where they can observe. While I understand that there are valid reasons to do so, it is a practice that leaves me personally uncomfortable.

First, as a parent myself, I think I would be both irritated and suspicious if I was not allowed to see my child practice. And second, I think parents should have the ultimate right (though I encourage them to exercise it judiciously) to watch what their child is doing.

So, while I do not support watching every minute of practice, I do support a parent’s right to watch practice.

And, in the following scenarios, I think parents should absolutely come watch practice:

  1. If your child asks you to because she wants to show you something special. Sometimes your child will be excited by a new skill or will want to show off a new routine. By all means, take a seat and let her show you what she is excited about.
  2. If your child asks you to because she needs the moral support. If she has just moved up a group, is planning to try a new skill unassisted that day or is just struggling a bit and could use a friendly face in the crowd, this is a time you should try to go watch practice.   You want to be careful that she does not over-rely on you, but you also want her to know that you are there to help her through rough times.
  3. If your child’s coach suggests that you do. Sometimes a coach will ask a parent to watch in order to give the athlete an extra boost. Other times it will be so the coach and the parent can better collaborate on an issue the child is having. Whatever the reason, if your child’s coach asks you to come watch, please do.
  4. If you are simply demonstrating your on-going support. You absolutely should show up at practice from time to time to watch for a bit simply to show your child you are engaged in what she is doing. Your teen might roll her eyes when she sees you are there, but secretly she will be glad that you took the time out of your day to see her.
  5. If you are checking in on her progress because she has expressed that she is frustrated by it. One of the benefits of not watching practice is that you have the distance necessary to see progress in your child. If your child is feeling bad about how her development is going, checking in by watching practice and then telling her what you noticed she has improved upon can be a great boost to her confidence.
  6. If you are trying to understand an issue your child is having by gaining first hand knowledge so you can help her or speak to her coach. On the other hand if progress is in fact stalled or there is some problem going on, after watching you will have identified a real problem to work on with her and her coaches.
  7. If you are evaluating a program new to your child. In the early stages of involvement in a gym, it is okay to watch a bit more than normal. You are trying to get a sense of the people that your child is going to be spending time with and what this new community of yours looks like.
  8. If you are evaluating if it is time to leave the program your child is currently enrolled in. It happens. Sometimes the club your child is enrolled in is no longer a great fit. Or sometimes it is still a good fit and you need to watch practice a little to remember that.
  9. If you are evaluating your child’s readiness for a more intense program. If your child is being asked to move from pre-team to team, for instance, then you should take the time to watch workout to see what you think her emotional readiness is for such a jump.
  10. If you haven’t watched for a while and just want to lay eyes on your child for a little bit and want to visit with your gym family. Life is busy. Parents travel for work or have to tend to other obligations and don’t get to see their kids as much as they might like. If your child is spending upwards of 10 hours a week in the gym, it might be that you just want to see her face—even from a distance. Go ahead and take a peek, she will be glad to see you too!  Additionally, for many of us our gym is a community and we enjoy the other parents and the front desk staff members.  So it is natural that we want to spend some time visiting with them.

Like most everything in life, it is about balance.

It is also about thinking about who are the stakeholders in the scenario.

In gymnastics we often talk of the coach-parent-athlete triangle, the relationships of each to the other are critical in creating a successful sports experience. Keeping in mind the needs of each of the stakeholders goes a long way in determining how frequently parents observe training.

So dear parents, while you are literally relegated to the sidelines,  you are a vital player in your child’s successful experience in sports.