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20 Mistakes Sports Parents Make With Their Kids: Don’t Fall Into These Sports Parenting Traps

How is your sports relationship with your child? Are you supporting your child in their sport the way they need to be nurtured? Do you understand your child’s sport experience? Do you create an environment that helps develop your child through their sport career? As founder and President of The International Mental Game Coaching Association I certify coaches, coach kids and adults and consult to parents, coaches and officials. I continually hear about parents who make numerous mistakes in their desire to achieve sports success. I’ve been coaching for over 35 years and have seen these issues up close and personal. Take a look at these common mistakes parents make with their child’s sports experiences. How many of these would your child say you make? How many of these can you avoid making?

As President of The International Mental Game Coaching Association, one of my goals is to spread the concepts of mental toughness and self-coaching throughout the world. I want children to become more self-reliant, have higher self-esteem, make better decisions, learn better judgment, manage their stress, engage the zone in performance and achieve to their full potential.

20 Mistakes Parents Make With Their Kids In The World Of Sport

1. Lecturing their child about the sport’s techniques and strategies when they never played the sport, or played at a low level.

2. Criticizing, judging or lecturing their child about their performance under pressure when they themselves have never competed, or competed at a low level, and do not understand the pressures of competition.

3. Failing to create a supportive, organized environment the day of competitions.

4. Treating officials and staff with less than full respect.

5. Rushing their child’s early sport technique development, when that should be the slowest, most careful period of all, to gain solid fundamentals that last a lifetime, which don’t need to be corrected later in their career.

6. Placing unwanted pressure on their child by framing competitions as being “Must win”, “Can’t lose”, “An important event”, “Critical competition”, and the like.

7. Pushing their child into a sport or competition before they are ready.

8. Failing to see the value of sports lessons as preparation for life itself.

9. Allowing their child to get away with poor behavior by making excuses for it, or by failing to exert parental standards.

10. Failing to match their child’s sport choice to their temperament, sensibilities, talents and values.

11. Projecting their own insecurities, worries and nervousness about their child’s performance onto their child, especially before a competition.

12. Not allowing their child to own their sport experience, and thereby learn from their mistakes, and instead doing everything for their child.

13. Performing a post-competition analysis sooner than their child would like it.

14. Asking “Did you win?” after a competition, rather than saying something that carries less pressure.

15. Failing to listen and to allow their child to process their feelings after a difficult practice or stressful competition.

16. Smothering their child, by hovering around every sport activity their child attends, from practices to training session to competitions (known as being a Helicopter Parent).

17. Failing to support or respect the coaching staff.

18. Displaying poor sportsmanship.

19. Failing to be a role model for the behaviors they want their children to display.

20. Taking it as personal criticism when their child makes requests for them to modify their parenting behavior.

So there you have it, the 20 mistakes sports parents make with their kids. To see our larger article with the 77 mistakes parents make, go here:


For a comprehensive overview of your child’s mental abilities you need an assessment instrument that identifies their complete mental strengths and weaknesses. For a free, easy-to-take sports psychology assessment tool, visit: http://www.mentalgamecoach.com/Assessments/MentalGameOfSports.html

We also offer extensive resources with which to improve your child’s entire mental game.

Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA 2006 All rights reserved.