Advice for Coaches and Parents

How parents and coaches can shape the sports experience.

The Benefits of Sports

Parents, coaches, and athletic program directors need to work together in making sports a positive experience for kids. Parents should always have good communication with coaches and organizers in their joint goal of helping kids to develop:

1. An enjoyment of sports that will be sustained through adulthood

2. Physical fitness

3. Enhanced motor skills

4. Positive self-image

5. Balanced perspective on sports in relation to school and community life

6. Commitment to the values of teamwork, fair play, and sportsmanship

Here are some guidelines and strategies for working together to make the sports experience better for children:

Next: Parents


  • Allow your child to try a variety of sports and to choose ones that appeal to her.
  • Avoid putting pressure on her to participate in a specific sport.
  • Be realistic about your child's abilities and attention span.
  • Offer unconditional approval for participating and having fun.
  • Turn losses and disappointments into learning experiences.
  • Attend games, show support from the sidelines, and discuss game events.
  • Ensure a proper balance between sports and other life activities.
  • Encourage and assist your child to set personal goals to achieve her highest potential.
  • Stress the enjoyment and socialization skills that organized sports have to offer.
  • Gain an understanding of the sport and your child's involvement.
  • Help your child talk with you about her experiences with the coach and other team members.
  • If you have a concern, take time to talk with the coach in an appropriate manner.

Next: Coaches


  • Stress playing hard and mastering the sport ahead of winning.
  • Allow each child equal playing time.
  • Praise good effort.
  • Serve as a role model for the players
  • Handle mistakes with encouragement and corrective instruction.
  • Incorporate free play into practice sessions and end practice on a positive note.
  • Insist on warm-up procedures and the wearing of protective equipment at all times.
  • Stress the importance of abiding by the rules of the game in letter and in spirit.

Athletic Program Directors

  • Set game rules to accommodate age-appropriate skills or fitness.
  • Group children according to size, skill, and maturational level rather than age.
  • De-emphasize playoffs and avoid all-star contests.
  • Require pre-participation physical examinations.
  • Have a doctor in attendance at all games and physical competitions.
  • Establish strict policies about injuries, emergencies, and the return of injured players.
  • Maintain suitability of playing facilities.
  • Keep an open door for feedback from players, parents, and coaches.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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