3 Keys for Sports Parents

by Matt Cuccaro, Ed.M.

Competitive sport is a great way for young men and women to learn about themselves and build skills that will assist them on and off the playing field. Sports can build confidence through discipline, respect, hard work, and by learning to manage stress. This process comes to fruition under the watchful eye of many people in the student-athlete’s support system. The support system plays a crucial role in the daily development of the student-athlete. When each of the pieces of this system plays their role, successful and healthy development is the result. When the system breaks down and roles become cluttered, the result is not as successful on or off the field of play. The following information is based on years of sport science research. It is meant to provide guidance to parents in order to assist and clarify their role in the development of their student-athlete.


Open ears / Open arms – As athletes develop throughout the years, they will go through many highs and many lows along the way. Development in sport is synonymous with change. Parents who listen and display unconditional love through it all create the best environment for their child to succeed.

Values – What do you value as a family? Do the messages you send on a daily basis reflect those values? Consistent reminders of family values through thick and thin assist in maintaining a balanced life filled with perspective on and off the field.

Mastery of Skills over Results – If immediate results become more important than the long-term growth and development of your student-athlete, short-sighted reactions and habits will follow. Student-athletes who strive to consistently improve and refine their skills build effective habits. Athletes who are motivated to master skills rather than simply focus on the scoreboard establish a mindset that will endure the ups and downs of the 10 years and 10,000 hours of quality investment required to become an expert in any field.

Highly effective sports parents assist in maintaining balance within their student-athlete’s support system by taking great pride in their role and living that role to the fullest. These three fundamental ideas can help pave the road to healthier, more confident, and more secure student-athletes who will thrive on and off the field of play for years to come.

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