Being a team parent is hard: sitting on the sidelines, trying to keep
active on the team without being too overbearing. The coach always needs help,
but sometimes, parents and coaches don’t see eye-to-eye. In order to avoid
emotions running high, parents need to realize that there are valuable lessons
to learn from team coaches, and by doing so, it will make the team run more
smoothly. It’s all about teamwork in cheer, after all–and, that includes mutual
respect between coaches and parents!
1. Staying positive.
So, the team just lost the competition, and your cheerleader
already feels bad. The coach gives everyone a pep talk afterward to raise team
morale, and briefly touches on what needs improvement for next time. Take a
page out of the coach’s book–tread lightly! You, as a parent, do not need to offer
your own comments and make things worse. Focus on the positive: how the team
finally nailed the stunt they have been working on for months! Ask your
cheerleader questions, don’t just give your opinion. No one likes to lose, but
no one likes to lose and then have someone point out all the things that they
did wrong. You’re their parent, not their coach; be proud of your cheerleader
and show that you support them,
win or lose.
2. Don’t complain in front of the kids. As a coach, this is one of the most toxic
things you can do
: calling out one of the participants in front of their teammates. That child will feel shamed, and bring that negativity to practice and to the
competition. This can cause friction between teammates, too! In the same sense, complaining to a coach is
tempting to do as a team parent, especially with your child standing within ear
shot, because, hey, why not? You’ve never thought twice about voicing your
opinion in front of your kids before. But, the other cheerleaders and parents
could overhear the situation, and cause the issue to blow up. You may not know why
a coach made a certain decision, and you don’t have to like it, but shouldn't talk about in
front of the kids. Call another parent about the problem, get together for
coffee, and sort things out privately. Negativity and friction can make or
break a team. Teams need trust and the ability to work fluidly together; if you
push your negativity about a team member or the coach out in the open for
everyone to know, that trust is broken.
3. You are not the coach.
Take your kid to practice and leave; nothing is worse
than a parent who wants to tell a coach what to do, or tell their child the
exact opposite of what the coach told them to do. You are the parent–your
children will always listen to you more then they will listen to their coach. It
is ingrained in them to do what they are told. However, coaches need to have
total authority over your children when it comes to sports. If you tell your
child something different, it undermines that authority and, often times,
causes more problems for your child. 4. Seeing your kid as part of the team, not a superstar.
This is a hard one for
parents to understand. Everyone thinks their kid is the best, that their kid
should be at the top of the pyramid or doing all the stunts. Why isn’t my kid
in front? Well, it is probably because your kid is not as good as you think
they are. I am not saying your kid is not good: they tried out, they made the
team, and they earned their spot. However, take a page out of coach’s book and
leave your bias at the door. You may think that your child should be front and
center, leading the team. Well, I hate to break it to you, but so does every
other parent on that team. You have to earn your spot and sometimes, no matter
how hard you try, your kid may not earn that spot because someone is better
than them. You have to see the bigger picture, and not just focus on your kid
being the superstar. Your kid is great, and you should be proud of them
their spot on the team! If they were not on the team, the team would not be as
strong. Your kid may not be the person in front, but your kid is still a
superstar.5. Let your child talk to the coach.
Do not fight your kid’s battles, just like your child shouldn't have to fight yours! If your child
has a problem, they need to speak with their coach themselves.
The team coach doesn't approach you if there is something off about how your cheerleader is performing, so return the favor by staying out of it. Personally, I have been a
coach, and the most frustrating thing is having a parent come up to me asking
why their kid did not get more playing time. Any good coach has great communication
with their team. You, as a parent, need to respect that line of communication
between cheerleader and coach. The child generally knows full well why they
were not playing, but the parent–full of rage–felt by attacking me, it would
change the situation. I can tell you, it did not. If you have concerns about your
child due to health or injuries, then yes, talk to the coach. When it comes to
coaching, positioning, playing time, etc, you need to remember you are not the
coach and it is not your place to ask for your child. If your child wants a new
spot in the routine, or have any other concerns they want to ask about, they
need to see why the decision was made in the first place. By the parents asking,
it shows the coach that you, as a parent, are more interested in being a member
of the team than your child is.
What other lessons can cheer parents learn from team coaches? What have you
observed on your team? Tell us in the comments below!