Psycho Parents

Remember folks, youth sports don’t create psycho parents – psycho parents ruin youth sports which otherwise provide an excellent experience for our kids! And league officials who sweep bad behavior under the rug only make it worse.

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  1. True enough, but doesn’t tell the whole story. The travel/elite, win at all costs aspects of youth sports shares blame with creating “pycho parents”.Any parent who sees their child emotionally abused or benched for whole games after travelling to a tournament should become a little pyscho.

  2. Agreed – though parents who witness their kids being treated as you describe really need to assess why they are with a given team or club. No easy answers – but sitting out entire matches or being emotionally abused isn’t what kids need, regardless of how much the parents want to win. I don’t think kids need to be coddled 24×7, but there are limits and having a kid just sit in the hot sun for 60 minutes watching their teammates have fun just isn’t fun.

    The irony is the win at all costs attitude comes directly from – the parents, either directly or indirectly.

  3. The “win at all costs” aspect comes also from the league and the coach, who decides his own developmental philosophy of his team.

  4. Sure – which is why I said indirectly. Parents who continue to bring their kids to play for abusive coaches are indirectly re-enforcing the bad behavior. They’re paying their money to play for the abusive coach who is bringing in the money to the club. I absolutely agree that clubs should rid themselves of abusive coaches, but some don’t because it’s awkward and hard. Having been involved in D&A hearings for coaches is never fun. Of course if club A kicks a coach out because of their behavior – watch how many parents follow him/her to club B because they are successful. It all comes back to the parents who often are enablers and don’t even realize it.

  5. Good point. I think it’s a shame there is no middle ground between rec sports and travel. On the rec side , the play is often so pathetic there is no real learning going on, even though the kids are having fun. But if your child would like to learn and take the sport more seriously, then the only option is the travel model with limited play time, extensive traveling and the aformentioned “win at all cost mentality” that has to be dealt with. After, let’s say 13 years old, I think a child can make their own determination whether the travel team is worth his/her time, but at 8 to 11 years old,ANY team or league should be completely developemental in nature.

  6. Yup. We have a saying in our league among the officers ‘it all comes down to coaching’ As a young league we learned in a hurry that we had to help improve our coaching pool to be successful – sounds obvious, but all too often people focus on the ‘rising stars’ and the rest are there ‘just to play’

    Our league has an almost impossible mission statement for our Rec division – provide a learning environment that will allow ANY child to move to a higher level if they choose while providing a safe and fun environment for those that never will. And the only way to do that is good coaches. The fact that most of them are parent volunteers means a lot of training, a lot of emails, and diligence on the part of the league to develop coaches just like we do players. We’re not even CLOSE to there yet, but we’re moving along. We try to get at least a dozen coaches certified each year and double that to at least take a Youth Module. Our DOC is in the middle of getting her National Youth license with the added instructor module so she can teach youth module courses locally. Our Rec division happens to be pretty competitive – in a good way. The coaches take Rec seriously, within the confines of ‘fun for all’, ‘equal playing time’, etc. and it shows. We view our Rec division as a vital resource for both our community AND our travel teams. I don’t see that as a bad thing. But it’s an almost impossible thing to do right. We’re still feeling our way along for sure, but I hope we can maintain that direction.

    I’m coaching Challenge/travel this Fall, but I’m also coaching Rec and can’t wait to see what my ‘new’ team will be like. It’s just as much a challenge as my Challenge/travel team will be.

  7. Out of curiosity, does your league have minimum play rules in effect for the travel kids.

  8. No we don’t and it’s made very clear to parents that such rules don’t exist when they are offered roster slots. However, the coaches and the league pursue a middle ground. Given our leagues youth and size, our travel teams are not ‘solid talent’ You often have stars, solid players, and kids that need additional development. We made a conscious decision this year to form teams with full rosters in U10-U12 instead of utilizing smaller rosters (thus more playing time per player) The reason we did this is we view U10-U12 Challenge as primarily ‘developmental’ and if we want successful teams at U13 and above (when rosters jump from 14 to 18 ), we need to develop all the players we can. If we can’t do two teams with smaller rosters that will both be relatively competitive, we’ll do one with a full roster. The understanding is we need to continue developing our players and that will, of course, include playing time in matches. Yet we still don’t want our teams to go out there and get their teeth kicked in, so the hope is we’ll strike a happy balance between winning and playing everyone as much as possible. WE also won’t form teams with warm bodies – if the roster doesn’t feel strong enough for that age group – the kids who didn’t make the 1st team return to Rec to continue developing there (we’re putting supplemental programs in place to give U8-U11 age Rec players some added skills development)

    Pie in the sky stuff, but we felt it was important. We felt it would be better for some players to play Challenge and get hopefully better coaching/development than playing a bit more in Rec. Not saying our Rec coaches are always worse than our travel coaches. But the level of play IS different.

    We’ll see how it goes. As we get bigger it can be much harder to control. But for now ur group of travel team coaches for the most part are there to develop the kids, even if it means only winning one match. My son did just that in U10 this Spring. They won one match all season long, but the players developed a LOT and the kids all played. It was well worth it.

    Here’s hoping we can pull off what we hope to.

  9. well I disagree completely with much that’s been said. The demanding, obnoxious parents, not the coach, are usually the culprit. The parents who contribute nothing have way too much leverage and that’s why the town teams are dying. Every parent thinks lil johnny is a star and is brutal with coaches to the point where no one will coach the teams anymore. I know it’s more poular to criticize the coach, but to me the parents are the biggest problem by far.