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 for securing 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!