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A Football Parent's Guide
Photo of Brian Halligan

Whether you’re a new football parent or a seasoned sports mom/dad – a little advice never hurt anyone. So before you polish the pigskin for your child's upcoming summer training camp, check out this guide for a few pointers on how to maximize this football season – both for you and your child. Besides providing a mode of transportation and some healthy snacks for your child, a successful football parent is excellent at communication, discipline and listening. These things go a long way in the world of football. So tune-up the SUV, install some rubber floor-mats (to handle those muddy cleats) and follow these guidelines to make you the best football parent ever.

Build a Good Relationship with the Coach

“Communication is the key to a good relationship.” Not sure who said it, but somebody did – and they were right. The same goes for the relationship with your child’s football coach. Before the season even begins, make sure to introduce yourself and make the coach aware that you are an involved, dedicated football parent. If you’ve got the time, volunteer to help out with any administrative duties or provide assistance for the team. Even if it’s as simple as providing a plate of snacks for one game out of the season – your help will be appreciated. Just make sure you don’t take “being helpful” too far.

But, don’t BE the coach
There is a great boundary line between “football parent” and “football coach.” As a football parent, make sure you aren’t crossing that line. As much as you might like to give the coach some pointers or tell them how your child would really like to be a running back instead of a defensive tackle… it’s not really your place. Respect the coach’s methods and style – and let your child, their coach and the team make game-playing decisions on their own.

Use Discipline at Home

Let the coach handle the discipline on the field, while you handle the discipline at home. The schedule for the season should be set in stone – and it is your job to enforce it. While children should be responsible for getting themselves on time to practice after school, it’s your job to get them to and from games and other practices on time. Make sure your football child knows the importance of schoolwork as well. Add “homework time” to the schedule and enforce it. No homework – no football.

Another thing that needs great discipline from a football parent is nutrition. Reinforcing the importance of a healthy diet and how it affects an athlete’s performance and ability are skills you should be teaching at home. Stock your child’s book bag and practice bag with healthy snacks so they aren’t running to a vending machine. Make sure they are drinking water instead of sugary sodas. Keep them hydrated, healthy, and make sure they get to bed on time and you’ll have a great athlete (and student) all season long.

Celebrate Wins – and Losses

Of course you want your child to win. If you didn’t, there might be something wrong with you… But it’s important to celebrate both the wins and the losses. Let your child know that you are proud of them and encourage them to stay motivated, even after a loss. For a child in sports, knowing that doing your best is the same as being the best, is the difference between a happy child and a frustrated child.

Motivate for the Right Reasons

Is your football child excited for the big game for the right reasons? If you’re not sure… maybe you should ask them. Are they excited to win? Excited to compete? Excited for the team party after? With so many different personalities, every child will have a different reason for wanting to play football. Find out what it is they love about the game, and encourage that. Motivate your child to play their best, practice hard and enjoy the sport. If they aren’t having fun… maybe you need to help them find new motivation for playing football.

Recognize your Child’s Needs

You may think you know what your child needs (you’re their parent after all), but sometimes you could be wrong. As a football parent, you might be reluctant to notice or acknowledge when your child is struggling. Good communication with the coach comes in handy for this. If your child needs private lessons, some strength training or a new nutrition plan – the coach should be able to fill you in.

By following these guidelines, using a bit of good sense and keeping the “big picture” in mind – you’ll have a winning football season to come. Keep your child happy and enjoy all the great parts of being a football parent.

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