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How to Improve Parental Involvement in Organized Sports

by Shelley Frost

Playing a supportive role for your child's sports team can mean the difference between her growing as a player or quitting the team. Negative parent behaviors, such as booing the refs or complaining about child playing time, hurt players. The team parents have the power to support the team through volunteer coaching, positive behavior on the sidelines and providing necessary supplies. With positive interaction from parents, the team becomes a youth-focused experience to strengthen the players' skills and sportsmanship.

Review the league's handbook, policies and rules to make yourself familiar with the expectations for all parties involved. If you didn't receive a parent handbook, contact the league to get the information.

Have a parent meeting before the season starts, if you are a team coach. If you aren't in charge of the team, offer to organize a parent meeting for the coach. This gives the parents the opportunity to meet one another and hear the expectations for their behavior from the coach.

Volunteer as a team manager, if you aren't serving as the coach. This allows you to stay involved in the team activities and encourage other parents to participate appropriately. Ask the coach whether you can help with duties such as washing team laundry, transporting the equipment to games, keeping the kids together or coordinating fundraisers.

Offer to write a team newsletter, send out emails or write a blog to keep parents in the loop. Use the communication to suggest productive ways for the parents to participate with the team.

Coordinate a snack schedule for team games and practices. Ask parents to sign up to bring healthful food and drinks for the players. Offer suggestions such as pretzels, fresh fruit, low-sugar cereal and string cheese.

Plan team events, such as a team picnic, outside of games and practices. This builds camaraderie among the athletes and encourages parents to increase their participation.

Attend games and practices to support your child. Cheer for the entire team, not just your child, and encourage other parents to do the same. Model good sportsmanship by supporting the other team and not booing or jeering opposing players.

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