How to Be a Good Sports Parent

How to Be a Good Sports Parent

Youth Sports

Sports evaluations can be a nerve-wracking experience for your child. However, they can be equally as anxiety-inducing for any parent of an athlete. While your child might be experiencing a physical or mental block days (or even weeks) before a sports evaluation, it’s important to help ease their mindset so that they can perform at their best!

We provide three tips on how to be a good sports parent, preparing your child for any challenge they face while helping them feel confident before, during, and after any evaluation.

What Constitutes a Good Sports Parent?

1. Encourage your child to practice the right drills

Knowing the drills ahead of time and preparing your child can make them feel much more comfortable during the real evaluation. If your child is about to attend a basketball tryout in a few weeks, write down a list of specific drills they should practice based on last year’s evaluations. If this is their first time trying out for the team and you are both unsure what to work on, send an email to the sports organization ahead of time asking what drills your child should practice.

A young athlete may not hear the instructions clearly at the start of an evaluation or may be nervous when asked to run drills that they haven’t practiced much. However, practicing drills in advance eases your child’s nerves and sets them up for success.

Provide emotional support as well. If your child is exhibiting signs of frustration or defeat while practicing drills, refer to any YouTube videos or articles that provide tips on how they can improve their form, speed, and technique.

2. Get to know the team’s evaluators

Rather than having Johnny’s Uncle or Bob’s Dad from the soccer team conduct evaluations, third-party evaluators should be hired to provide an unbiased approach. Ask the right questions beforehand to the sports organization to ensure you know the names of the evaluators and their backgrounds.

If unbiased evaluators are used, it’s far less likely that biased evaluators will have an impact on your child’s overall score. If the organization doesn’t already use unbiased evaluators, encourage them to do so by starting a conversation before the evaluations, or at the very least, have them consider it as an option for next year. Unbiased evaluators will result in accurate results and a better sports experience for all athletes involved.

3. Ask for individual feedback from coaches

Providing feedback to an athlete on what they did well provides confidence and reinforces positive behavior in the player. In addition, giving feedback on areas that need improvement will help an athlete know what they need to work on before practices even begin.  

Too often, sports evaluations are done where no feedback is provided back to the players. All they know is which team they got assigned to for the season but not the why behind that decision. At most, players will be given verbal feedback after an evaluation, which typically goes in one ear and out the other.  

Individual reports on SkillShark's athlete evaluation software

Individual reports on SkillShark

Individual reports are one way for parents to have a better understanding of the evaluation process, which provides athletes with a clear picture of what areas they excel at and what they need to work on. Parents shouldn’t be shy to take the initiative and ask their child’s coach for an individual report throughout the season.

4. Steer clear of athlete comparisons

After a sports evaluation, your young athlete might resort to comparing themselves to the “top athletes.” They will often be running through a checklist in their heads of what they lacked (or scored lower on) in comparison to the other athletes.

As a supportive sports parent, discourage comparisons in any form. As they say, “Comparison is a thief of joy,” and this statement holds true. Rather than letting your child focus on what skills another player excelled at, steer that focus to individual feedback. I.e., “Your coach stated to use your fingertips to control the basketball while dribbling, not the palm of your hand. Let’s work on this moving forward in practice.”


By encouraging your child to keep up with practicing their skills, asking coaches for individual feedback, and avoiding player comparisons in any form, parents will create a positive and encouraging environment for their young athletes to excel.

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FAQ — How to be Good Sports Parent

Show patience, empathy, support, discipline, and love at all times.

Do: Celebrate the wins, motivate your child to go after their athletic goals, help your young athlete learn from their mistakes, encourage consistency (make sure they are excited to attend each practice).

Don’t: Let your emotions get in the way, have disagreements with other parents on the team, let your child engage in negative self-talk, argue with coaches.

Encourage your child to be supportive of other players, avoid arguing with referees (over unfair point allocation), play by the rules of the game, and show respect to the opposing team.

For instance, if a player on your child’s team misses the net while trying to shoot the basketball, encourage your child to lend a helping hand after the game. Rather than shifting blame solely to that player, your child could give them a few pointers to improve their shooting range.

When parents stay actively involved in their child’s sports experience, that child will be more likely to have better attendance at games, show signs of sportsmanship, set realistic goals, and overall, live a balanced healthy lifestyle.

1) Clear communication: Ensure an open-door communication policy. If your child is apprehensive or anxious about an upcoming game or not fond of a player on their team, make it known that they can always come to you for any problems.

2) Avoid punishment: If you child happens to miss a goal at practice, never resort to punishing them. Communicate effectively about what might have gone wrong (you can get the coach involved here), and figure out a solution to minimize this occurrence from happening.

3) Offer words of encouragement: While you child might have bouts of self-blame, make a conscious effort to offer words of encouragement before and after practices and tournaments. When possible, make these compliments as specific as possible. For instance, “Great job on your overhead pass to Dylan today on the court. With your assistance, Dylan was able to set the ball up for a great 3-pointer shot.”

Like a cold or flu, emotions are contagious. When a child notices their parent yelling at a coach due to an unfair point allocation, they will often mimic this behavior because they think it is acceptable.

Don’t focus on the score too much. Keep reminding yourself that your child is involved in sports to connect with others, learn new skills, and live a healthy lifestyle. When you take your mind off the score, you can avoid becoming discouraged when your child’s team is behind the lead.


Elanne is SkillShark’s marketing aficionado who is equal parts passionate about sports, marketing and sports marketing. She can usually be found with a golf ball or three in her purse, and her favorite way to spend downtime is out on the course with friends and family.