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Youth Sports Tips for Parents

Parents: Do You Dare to Chill?

Parent Tips & Information


“There are millions of children and adolescents participating in youth sports programs throughout America. In the process of sports participation, youth develop behavioral attitudes that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. These attitudes establish a framework for sports in American society and all too often are dramatically altered, as youth grow older.” – National Summit of Sportsmanship in Youth Sports

All your player needs to hear from you is "I love watching you play."

Check out this Parent's Guide to Improving Youth Sports, by the Citizenship through Sports Alliance: 

Redefine "Winning"

In the culture of today, many coaches have adopted a “success = performance” perspective. If their team succeeds (i.e., acquires outcomes), then the identification leads to coaches feeling good. Anything short of success leads to problem behaviors from the coach. What we need are cultures that encourage a “success = progress” point of view. That is, a vision that teaches children, their parents and the coach that improvement (i.e., the process) in sport is more important than winning and losing (i.e., the outcome). When coaches and parents are encouraged to identify with their team’s progress, they will be joyous when the team improves, regardless of who won or lost. In professional sports (which is an entertainment setting), there is only one goal--to have the most points at the end of a contest. However, in youth sports (which is an educational setting), there is a more important goal: to produce young people who will be winners in life. To help our children get the most out of competitive sports, we need to redefine what it means to be a "winner."

Winners are people who:

  • Make maximum effort. Continue to learn and improve. Refuse to let mistakes (or fear of making mistakes) stop them.


  • Tell your child that it's OK to make a mistake because that is how they learn.
  • Let your child know you appreciate it when he tries hard even if unsuccessful.
  • Ask rather than tell. Try to get your child to talk about her play rather than telling her what you think about it. Ask open-ended questions to get her to talk (e.g., "What was the best part of the game for you?")  
  • Let the coaches criticize your child's play. Do not sideline coach.
  • Tell your child you are proud of him regardless of the outcome of the game. It can be as simple as telling your child "I love to watch you play," regardless of how they did or who won.

Sportsmanship and Honoring the Game

There are many ways to create a youth sports culture that promotes sportsmanship.  Youth sports must strive to restore, promote and emphasize the value of sportsmanship, which emphasizes ethical and moral conduct throughout their programs:

Acceptable (and expected) behaviors:

  • Applaud and cheer for both teams.
  • Use positive language, more importantly, body language while watching youth sports.
  • Accept all decisions of the officials.

Unacceptable behaviors:

  • Yelling, heckling, booing or any other disrespectful comments
  • Having negative body language (throwing hands up during a call, etc.)
  • Blaming a loss or mistake on anyone
  • Putting competitive nature before any child’s well-being
  • Using profanity or violence in any way

"Honoring the Game" gets to the ROOTS of positive play, where ROOTS stands for respect for:

  • Rules: We don't bend the rules to win.
  • Opponents: A worthy opponent is a gift that forces us to play to our highest potential.
  • Officials: We treat officials with respect even when we disagree.
  • Teammates: We never do anything that would embarrass our team on or off the field.
  • Self: We live up to our own standards regardless of what others do.


  • Let your child know that you want them to Honor The Game. Discuss the meaning of each element of ROOTS with your athletes.
  • Be a good role model. Honor the Game when you attend games. Cheer both teams when good plays are made. If, in your opinion, an officiating mistake is made, be silent! Use this as an opportunity to think about how difficult it is to officiate a game perfectly.
  • Encourage other parents to Honor the Game.
  • Click here to see a short presentation on what parents can do from the stands to promote sportsmanship. 

 We Love our Officials

The umpires/officials are part of the CARD Youth Sports team. They are here for the kids, and are trying to do what is best for them. We have an expectation for all umpires/officials to have the following priorities:

  1. Safety
  2. Fairness
  3. Fun

The officials uphold the sportsmanship, respect and integrity of the game. Coaches/parents and officials sometime have a difficult relationship because of one major factor: coaches/parents are most vested in who wins and officials aren't. Because coaches/parents are pulling for their team, they see the game with a built-in bias. Officials do not make the calls that decide the outcomes of the game. Players commit fouls and violations; officials view those infractions, judge the action and then apply the rules of the game to what they have viewed (and sometimes what they viewed will be the opposite of what parents/coaches viewed). The officials do not decide the outcome of the game; the players and coaches do.


    • Recognize the difficult job an official has and use any mistakes they make as a learning opportunity in how to deal with adversity. 
    • Never blame a loss on the official. Show players how to accept ownership of actions and to not transfer blame.
    • Instead of creating a difficult time or relationship with the officials- get to know them and thank them after the game for doing their best.

    Refusal to Abide by the Officials Decision

    This procedure is designed to help and encourage all members of the Youth Sports Department to achieve and maintain the standards of behavior as detailed on this website. The goal is to ensure consistent and fair treatment to all members.

    If a coach, player, parent or spectator refuses to abide by the officials decision and/or argues with the judgment of the official making the call, the official when give give a warning, and then we will be following our Refusal to Abide by the Code of Conduct. 

    All offenses are cumulative throughout the current season 

    Parent Test

    This test is intended to see whether you or someone you know is in danger of becoming a parent that has lost sight of the goals of youth sports and is becoming detrimental to the program and their child (borrowed from the Redding Recreation website :-).

    May contain: text
    • Are you disappointed in your child when he/she loses or doesn't play well?
    • Are you unhappy because your child's athletic ability and skill level doesn't live up to your expectations?
    • Do you coach from the sidelines?
    • Do you compare your child's skills or talent with other players on the team?
    • Do you boast and brag about your child's performance to others?
    • Do you get mad at your child's coaches when they don't play him or her as much as you think they should?
    • Do you yell at the officials when they make a call or decision you don't agree with?
    • Do you blame circumstances or others - teammates, coaches, or referees ­when your child doesn't perform well?
    • Do you blame your child when he or she doesn't play as well as you think they should?
    • Do you make negative remarks to opposing players or coaches?
    • Do you critique your child's events, telling them every mistake they made?

    - If you answered, "yes" to one or two questions, you are a normal youth sports parent who just sometimes gets carried away.

    - If you answered, "yes" to three or more, you need to take a time out and rethink your involvement in your child's sport life. Refocus your mentality to winning=learning rather than the outcome of the game.

    - If you answered, "yes" to most or all of the questions, you need to remove yourself from the youth sports arena. Your actions are detrimental to your child and the program. Please re-evaluate your involvement in youth sports and how you communicate with your child in regards to their playing.

    Don't forget that all your child needs to hear from you is "I love to watch you play."