How to be a good sports parent

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Brian was interviewed for this KGW piece on sports parenting.

by Cathy Marshall, KGW Staff

Posted on October 25, 2013 at 1:48 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 25 at 5:38 PM

PORTLAND — University of Portland basketball player Bryce Pressley said he has seen some out of control sports parents over the years.

“One time a parent ran onto the court and almost tried to hit his kid, but the ref caught him,” Pressley said. “It was over the top.”

Pilots soccer player Erin Dees said she’s been the target of frustrated parents.

“I’ve had parents yelling things at me that college students wouldn’t even say,” she said.

But both Dees and Pressley said their parents found the perfect words when the competition got tough.

“They would tell me to forget about it and move on to the next game,” Pressley remembered.

“Once I slipped on a goal kick. I looked like a Bozo but my dad told me not to worry about it because no one saw it,” Dees said. “A sense of humor is good.”

At Sports Psychology Institute Northwest, Brian Baxter offers seminars about how to parent successful athletes.

“The biggest mistake parents make is coaching from the sidelines,” he said. “Often times they’re telling their kids to do something contrary to what the coach is saying, so the child doesn’t know who to please.”

Baxter recommends parents focus on the three things within an athlete’s control: attitude, effort, and preparing for the game.

He said those are starting points for effective conversations, and a positive pre-game message is also important.

“Work hard and have fun. That’s all I say to my kids,” Baxter said.

Once the game is over, he said young athletes need space.

“On the car ride home it’s best to let everyone decompress. Maybe say one or two things like, ‘I love watching you play’ or ‘You guys did great.’”

Dees and Pressley remember the long, quiet car rides home but also the long lasting message delivered by Mom and Dad.

“Don’t give up and follow your dreams,” Pressley recalled.

Dees said the most important lesson was “knowing that in the end it didn’t matter how you played, because they still would love you.”

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