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Sports Parents Posts

How to Handle Losing the Big Game

Losing a big game can be disappointing for every member of the team. And after practicing extensively, it can be tough when your child and their teammates’ hard work doesn’t always pay off. But as a parent, there are some steps you can take to help your child cope after an upsetting loss.

Don’t Be A Sore Loser

We have likely all heard of the phrase “sore loser” and it is something that we definitely don’t want kids to strive for. There is nothing worse than watching your child refuse to shake the opposing team’s hands, stomping off the field, or even throwing a tantrum post game. With that being said, it isn’t always the easiest task to teach your child how not to be a sore loser. Handling your emotions, especially the negatives ones, in a responsible and courteous way is something that even adults will struggle with. But encouraging your child to contain those emotions until they are off the field or at the very least ensure that they go through the motions of congratulating the team is a great place to start.

Treat Them

We often hear about kids celebrating their big wins with a special treat. But what about taking your child out as a way to cheer up after a loss? If they are feeling exceptionally down after the game, going out for their favorite meal, stopping for ice cream, or doing some other fun activity might be exactly what they need to cheer up.

Keep On Practicing

As a child, when you are already feeling down and disappointed you typically are not looking forward to life lesson and lectures on how you can do better next time. As well-intentioned as they are, these types of talks usually do not produce the most positive of replies.

With that being said, losing tends to result in one of two reactions from your child in regards to practicing:

  1. Increased dedication to improving their skillset.
  2. A decrease in their motivation to practice and the idea that no matter what they do, they will not win.

If your child’s reaction falls into the latter, it’s important that you continue to push them to practice with hopes of sparking their passion for the sport again. Head to your backyard and play the sport with them yourself or encourage them to play with their friends. Inspire them to get back out there with the hopes of winning the next game.


Losing is a huge disappointment regardless of the circumstance but it is an unfortunate reality that everyone must eventually face. Helping your child to navigate a big loss from a young age can help them to gain important coping mechanism that they will then carry with them well into adulthood.

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Sports Lessons Aren’t Just for Athletes, Why Parents Should Pay Attention

As a parent, you have taken the first step towards helping your child become a better athlete. You purchased all of the gear they will need and enrolled them in lessons. At this point you might be thinking your job is done, well you would be wrong. If you want your child to come out of this experience feeling good and loving the sport, or sports, then there is more for you to do! Below are a few tips for parents from USPTA Professional Leah Barnes.

During a lesson, it is expected that the player will be focused on the skills being taught. They will be intently listening to the direction that the coach is providing and then trying their best to put that advice into action. During this time the player and their coach are focused on the sport and are probably not paying much attention to the parent (who stayed to watch the lesson). However, the parent should pay attention to what is happening during the lesson.

What to Watch For

Here are four important things you should be watching for during the lesson:

  1. Does it look and sound like your child and the coach are having a good time?
  2. Can you tell what the goal of the lesson is?
  3. Is the coach working with your child on a particular skill? For instance, in tennis, they might be working on their stroke or footwork.
  4. Finally, is your child “getting it?”

By paying attention during the lesson, it will be easier to support your child’s growth in the sport. You will become more informed about their strengths and weaknesses, you will also be able to provide guidance outside of the lesson. With that said, it is important to remember that you aren’t the coach. Let the coach do the coaching and you focus on being the parent.

Even though you aren’t out on the court or the field, as the parent you are a vital part of the team. If you play your position well, then your child will perform better, develop an appreciation for the sport and their confidence will increase as a result.


About the Author
Leah Barnes is a USPTA Professional at Wildwood Racquet Club in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She has been playing tennis since she was two years old and played #1 Singles for Canterbury High School where she went to State three of her four years. Leah has also been coaching children and adults for two years.

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How to Be a Graceful Winner

The team practices and practices, game day comes around, and it all pays off. They have won and your child, their teammates and yourself are ecstatic. But how do you ensure that these great wins don’t go to their heads and they handle it gracefully?

I want to preface this article by saying that you should in no way belittle your child’s victories or successes. In fact, they are actually vital to fostering confidence and belief in oneself. With that being said, there is a vast difference between being proud of one’s accomplishments and bragging or flaunting these successes in the face of those who lost. Below are some simple steps you can follow to ensure that your child is a graceful winner. 

Be Considerate

As excited and pleased as your child may be about winning, it is important that you remind them to be considerate of those who did not win. While it is fun to celebrate post-game with their teammates on the field, discourage them from boasting at or taunting the opposing team. Remind them of their own feelings after a disappointing loss and how they would want to be treated in that situation. Celebrating is a positive, bonding experience for the team but mocking or ridiculing others is simply cruel.

Keep Practicing

Sometimes consecutive wins can lead to overconfidence and lack of initiative regarding practicing. And no matter how talented your child may be doesn’t mean that there is no room for improvement. Even the greatest of athletes spend countless hours trying to enhance their skill set.

Encourage your child to continue to practice in spite of the victories. Discuss aspects of the sport that they could improve upon in addition to what they do well. They can even talk with the coach to see if she or he has any recommendations on how they can do better. Regardless of how skilled your child is, even if they are the best on the team, there is always room for improvement.

Let Them Celebrate

With all of that being said, it is also important to your child’s confidence and self-esteem that you acknowledge their successes and celebrate their victories. After a big win, take them out for dinner or a special treat. Let friends and family know about the win and even encourage others to check out the next game. Being told to squander their excited after a big win is disappointing for a child as they typically are looking for, and deserve, some sort of recognition for their accomplishments.

In the end, being a graceful winner is not about downplaying your child’s accomplishments but is instead about being mindful of the feelings of those around them. And this compassion and thoughtfulness towards their fellow players is something that your child can carry with them for the rest of their lives.

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Handling A Bad Coach

A major appeal for having your child join a sport is the relationships that they build. And in many cases, joining a team can result in many lifelong friendships. But parents often forget to consider another important relationship with a different member of the team, the coach. And what do you do if this relationship turns out to be a not-so-positive one and your child has a “bad coach”?

Take A Step Back

Before you make any rash decisions and remove your child from the team, it is important to consider why you or they feel that their coach is so bad. We sometimes forget that coaches are often parents who have volunteered to take on the roll. This is especially common when your child is younger and the team is affiliated with the town. If that is the case, they may not be overly familiar with the sport and, even if they are, it could have been a while since they themselves played it. And even if they are experts on the sports, they most likely also have other jobs or children that take up their time.

So what is it about the coach that is so dislikable? Is it their coaching style or the decisions they make regarding the game? Is it how they treat your child and other members of the team? Or is it something else entirely? Regardless of the reasoning, it is important to determine your problems prior to moving forward because every situation can, and should, be handled differently.

Talk About It

For most situations, some sort of resolution to the issue can be reached by simply talking it over with the coach. Of course, there are some extremes when this isn’t possible but in many cases, this is the first step. Bring up the issues you have and even some potential solutions to the problem. Try to do so in a calm and collected manner to avoid sounding overly accusatory. In many cases, the coach will be receptive to your concerns since, typically in youth athletics, at least some of their reasoning for being a coach is for the children to have a good time.

But, if the coach’s response to the confrontation is a less than a positive one, what should you do next? As always, the answer to the question depends upon the circumstances of the situation. If the season is close to the end, or the problem isn’t overly pressing, it could be worth it to simply ride out the rest of the year and ensure that your child doesn’t end up with the same coach in the future.

If the issue is more concerning and you don’t wish to simply remove your child from the team, you can always reach out to the people who run the team and select the coaches. This could be the town itself, the school, or a private organization. From there, they can hopefully remedy the situation by either talking to the coach themselves or even finding a replacement.

Dealing with a bad coach is an unfortunate experience no parent wants to have to face. In some cases, the dislike stems more from coaching styles and decisions as opposed to something more serious. But in the instances where the problems are a bit more upsetting, it is important that you take the correct steps to reach a solution.

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Is It Okay To Let Your Child Quit a Team?

Every time a practice or game day arrives, it’s a struggle to even get your child out the door. Simple tasks such as putting on their uniform or grabbing their gear may as well be torture. And don’t even mention their enthusiasm (or lack thereof) once they get to the field. They’re miserable, you’re miserable, and you start to wonder if it is even worth the time, effort, and dollars to finish out the season.

Is It Okay To Let Your Child Quit a Team?

But then you think about the lesson that might teach them, telling them that it is okay to quit every time something gets hard or isn’t what they imagined. And does that establish a precedent resulting in them quitting each sport they decide to try? In the end, each individual situation has a unique set of circumstances that you should consider before deciding whether or not to allow your child to quit a team.

Before anything else, it is important that you talk to your child and really understand what it is that they dislike about the game. You have probably heard them complain about the sport more times than you can count, but do you actually know why they are complaining? It may be because they think that it is too hard or that they aren’t good enough. If that is the case, a simple solution could be to practice more whether it be with you, their friends, or someone else.

In other instances, the solution could be a little more complicated. Maybe they don’t get along with their teammates or don’t feel as if they fit in. This is tougher because, as much as you can push your children to make new friends or put themselves out there more, you can’t force them. And even if they do, there is no guarantee that it is even going to work. Regardless of their reasoning for wanting to quit, it is important that you speak to your child and understand their side before making any sort of decision.

Too early to tell?

Another factor to consider is timing. Is it the very beginning of the season? If that is the case, it may be worth it to give the sport a bit more time before deciding. Trying a new thing can be frustrating and even a little scary and making a rash decision at the start of the season is something your child may end up regretting. Instead, encourage them to give the sport a bit more time before finalizing the decision. They may come to enjoy it in the end.

Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to let your child quit a sport is between you and them. Regardless of what you choose, it is important to consider all the circumstances before deciding to ensure that you are making the right choice.

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