Playing sports is supposed to be fun and fulfilling, right? What about when parents and coaches are yelling at you to run faster, work harder, do better? Sadly, this type of shouting happens all the time during sports games and makes the players’ experiences less fun and more nerve racking.
Verbal abuse dished out by parents over invested in their children’s games distracts and stresses out players, no matter what it is they are being scolded for. Coaches should be the only people giving players constructive criticism, the parents instead providing encouragement and support. Any opinions voiced from the sidelines will make players feel anxious, as if every split-second decision they make will bring ridicule and criticism.
I have experienced much of this anxiety playing sports. I quit soccer because of the pressure I felt from my coaches and parents to do well was too much and it made me feel like anything I did was just not good enough. Playing National Premier League (NPL) soccer put a lot of pressure on me to do well, not just for myself, but also my team, and the amount of investment that parents have in the game at such high levels manifests in ways that can discourage players.
I used to get so anxious about making mistakes and getting yelled at by coaches and parents that I would feel sick with fear and get massive stomach pains. Many players, including myself, had considered injuring themselves for the sole purpose of not being fit to play.
Children and teens should never feel as if everything they do is not good enough. Parents can diminish the negative feelings their child experiences during sports games by keeping their opinions to themselves and offering encouraging support. Statistics show that during 2017, one in three children consider quitting the game because of “over-engaged parents.”
School sports at CVHS were such a great experience for me that I wondered why I was so stressed about club sports, and I realized that it was because the pressure to do well during school soccer was far lighter than during club play. Almost all of my teammates on the school team agreed with me and said that they felt more confident and composed during games, improving their performance overall. One girl I interviewed about this topic said that she not only performed better, but also had more fun on the school sports team because her parents wouldn’t yell at her as much, and the coaches were a lot more understanding about her mistakes.
Sports games are just games. Games are meant to be fun and exciting for the players, not something they despise because of the misbehaved parents and coaches. Children should be encouraged and supported by their parents in everything that they do, and not be ridiculed for for making small mistakes with unhelpful comments. Everyone makes mistakes, and if done so during a game, players should receive constructive criticism from their coach on how to avoid making the mistake again.
Parents yelling at their child to “stop doing that” or to “pull yourself together” multiple times a game cause the players to become more and more nervous about making a mistake, and often make one.
Parents should be supportive of their children and offer compliments about what they do well. Improved behavior from adults on the sidelines of sports games will make the players less stressed about doing well, and they will continue to love the game.