Why Are Youth Sports Parents Out of Control?

20 Jun by HPA/LiveWell Clinical Psychology

While participating in sports is as popular as ever for young people, there seems to be a drastic shift in the youth sports parents out of control behavior. Research suggests poor sportsmanship amongst parents is on the rise, and this parental poor sportsmanship can have damaging affects on our children. At HPA/LiveWell in Albany, New York, we strive to increase awareness about the damaging effects of youth sports parents out of control behaviors, and educate parents on how they can better support children in sports.

Youth Sports Parents Out of Control

Understanding the psychology of a sports fan and a parent’s strong psychological connection to their child may provide some insight as to why youth sports parents out of control behavior occurs. When parents act out, it is likely due to feeling threatened in terms of their own sense of self-worth and/or success as a parent. This “bad behavior” is often triggered if:

  • Something goes “wrong” (i.e. – their child’s team loses).
  • A parent believes the coach is not putting their child in the game enough, or playing their child during a crucial moment in the game.
  • A parent believes a referee or official’s call is unfair or unwarranted.

Regardless of the reason behind youth sports parents out of control behavior, there is no justification as it can be detrimental to the child. Poor sportsmanship amongst parents can be embarrassing for a child and even contribute to social problems. It can also lead to a child developing their own unhealthy patterns around sportsmanship (which can cause problems well into the future), and in some cases, can become harmful to a their mental health.

How To Be A Good Sports Parent

Thankfully, there are ways youth sports parents out of control behavior can be changed. First and foremost, it is vital to remember youth sports are for the kids, not the parents. Also, parents can set a positive atmosphere for their children by showing appreciation for the coaches, referees, and other parents, and encouraging and congratulating other children on wins, good plays, etc.  For parents who struggle to keep their emotions under control, employing emotion regulation techniques, such as breathing exercises, could prove helpful.

To find out more about youth sports and mental health or to learn about the mental health services offered at HPA/LiveWell in Albany, New York, contact us at (518) 218-1188.