7 Things Parents Do to Make Their Kids Hate Sports

kids in sports

It happened more than 30 years ago, but my husband still remembers it like it was yesterday. His sports coach blasted him for not being a good player. That was the end of my husband’s athletic career. He couldn’t take the humiliation. On the flip side of that, my son’s Little League coach was awesome this past season. He had just the right balance of encouragement and instruction, with zero berating even when boys struck out again and again. That’s what makes for a positive experience and keeps kids in sports.

Organized sports are a great way to give kids confidence and keep them fit. They’re also an ideal way to strengthen the bond between parent and child if you decide to coach their team. But too many parents do things that negatively affect their kids in sports. What about your children? Are you unknowingly doing one of these 7 things parents do to make their kids hate sports?

1. They forget their children are kids.

It’s easy to get caught up in the pressure of turning our kids into super athletes. But when that happens, we start to expect our children to train like adults. Well, they’re not adults. Yes, they should be focused on doing their best, but their bodies are not able to bear the strain of grown-up size repetition. Plus, the joy of sports is having fun. If you expect your 8-year-old to have the focus and work ethic of a high-schooler, you’re expecting too much.

2. They embarrass their kids.

I just read an article about a father who would yell out to his son, “You’re playing like a girl!” at his son’s games. In front of everyone. Parents also embarrass their kids when they coach from the stands, yell at umpires and refs and confront the coach in an inappropriate way.

3. They compare their kids.

You might not even realize you’re doing this one. But if you say, “That Abby has amazing ball control.”  Your child is hearing, “My mom thinks I’m not as good as Abby.” More blatant examples of hurtful comparisons include, “Why can’t you move around the bases like Jack? If only you practiced as much as Sophia, you’d be good too.”

4. They don’t show up.

Sports are a big commitment, so if you sign your children up to play, make sure you’re all in. That means making every game you can. It may seem like you’re spending all of your free time at the field, but you’re also building memories and showing your children that you believe in them.

5. They over-schedule their kids.

It’s common these days for kids to join travel teams as early as 8 years old. You’ll hear the parents say, “He loves soccer so much. It was his idea.” It might have been your child’s idea, but you are the one who can wisely weigh the cost to your child. Is it really wise to let your children stay up late several nights a week at practices and games? Is it best for him and your family to spend all weekend traveling to tournaments? Many travel team kids are burned out by the time they’re in middle school. Just something to think about.

6. They live through their kids.

My husband was not a good athlete growing up, so the fact that our son is very athletic amuses him. Sadly, there are dads who were super athletic growing up who expect their children to be just like them. When they’re not, the fathers push, berate, and voice their disappointment. Find a way to let your kids shine at what they’re good at. If it’s the sport you or your husband love, great. If it’s not, accept your child and his preferences as is.

7. They don’t look out for their kids.

If your child is being treated badly by a coach, you need to step in. There is a right way to talk to your child’s coach, so take that approach. But by all means, don’t let anyone belittle your child to the point that their confidence is shaken and their spirit is broken.


Tell us! What is the best way to support our kids when they are playing sports?