Tips To Avoid Being The Obnoxious Sports Parent


You’ve seen them; you’ve heard them; perhaps you’ve been one: The obnoxious sports parent.

Now, most of us sports parents have done something or other we’re not proud of. I may have harassed a coach or two in my daughter’s six year hockey career and I possibly shouted a comment or two that I did want to take back. But, who hasn’t? But, for your child’s sake as much as your own, it’s best to avoid being the obnoxious sports parent everyone hates. Here’s how:

1. Remember that this is supposed to be fun. There is no million dollar contract on the line if they win or lose. These are (insert number here) year olds. Which brings me to my next point…

2. Your kid is probably not going to play in the NFL, NHL, NBA, WNBA or any other major sporting organization. So stop behaving like they are. Forcing them to practice and play isn’t going to make them a star. It’s going to make them a dropout.

3. Don’t fight, physically or verbally, with the ref or other parents in the stands, on the sidelines, in the parking lot or anywhere else. It could get you kicked out, banned from the venue for life, arrested and/or hurt. Not to mention the inescapable embarrassment of cussing and fighting at a YOUTH sports event. This seems like a no brainer but trust me there is video proof of this out there.

4. The coach knows (or should know) what he is doing and unless he/she calls the kids “little fuckers” and yes, we encountered one of those, let him/her do his job. Got a problem with their method? Most coaches request a 24 hour “cooling off” period, so schedule a time to talk when emotions aren’t running so high. Screaming in his/her face right after the team bombs is not going to win you any cool parent points.

5. Speaking of the coach, you are not one. Screaming your kid’s name, shouting instructions and performing a wild series of hand gestures is only going to confuse and embarrass them. That’s if they even hear or see you at all.

Related post: 10 People Who Make Parenting Harder

6. Let the other mamas have the drama. This is youth sports not high school. Talking shit about other kids and parents is bad form. And it’s a small world after all, so remember that if your kid stays in the sport long enough you will see them again. Maybe on next year’s team.

7. If you must vent? Just don’t do it in front of your player. Not only do they learn your gossiping, backstabbing ways by example, they could let your comments leak in the locker room. How awkward is THAT going to be?

8. Don’t analyze every practice, every game and every play to death with your kid. A coach advised me once to let my daughter talk, uninterrupted, for five minutes after a game. Once the five minutes were up, we were done. If she didn’t want to talk at all? That’s ok too.

9. Encouragement is great, criticism is not. Recently I read an article that said the most powerful six words you could say to your player were “I love to watch you play.” Awww… A little too mushy? Try “work hard” and “have fun.”

10. If your kid doesn’t want to play anymore, don’t make them. For those parents who are living vicariously through their player, this could be a tough pill to swallow. Let them live THEIR dream, not yours. Personally, I instituted a one season rule. If you commit to a season, you finish the season and then move on.

Related post: Saying Goodbye to the Sideline

I could go on about petty items such as don’t-forget-the snacks-if-it-is-your-turn or leave-the-cowbell-at-home-before-I-bludgeon-you-with-it type tips, but that is just nit-picky. Everyone will forgive you if you forget the bananas but may not be as quick to turn the other cheek if you spew obscenities at a game.

Oh, and P.S. During playoffs, all bets are off!

About the writer

Sharon is a self-proclaimed "hockey mom whisperer", a life coach to all the frozen toed, coffee clutching hockey parents out there.  She juggles freelance writing and rink time while raising a 12 year old goalie daughter. She can be found at the nearest ice rink, her blog PuckGal or at Surly Gurl Media.


Jodi Murphy 1 year ago

Couldn’t agree more to #5. If you try to coach your child from the sideline you are putting them in a really uncomfortable spot. Who do they listen to? If they disregard you will you be mad? If they listen to you will the coach punish them somehow? Just keep your mouth shut on the sidelines!

Jamie Lea Thomas 2 years ago

Very good! And yes.. never “make” a kid play a sport. But if they sign up… yeah… you will finish the season with a steady %100 attitude!

Melastik Bintang 2 years ago

. Encouragement is great, criticism is not. this one i agreed… we must encourage them not critics them…

Cindy 2 years ago

Add , don’t be too hard on the coach ! Lol. Some are just like you ! Called up and ” volunteered ” like I know a thing about soccer ! All I know is kick the ball ! Oh and not each other ! Lol. I know a few rules , but really ! It 5-6 year olds ! Just kick the ball and have fun. That’s our main goal !

Annie Kubek Holland 2 years ago

my husband and i sit away from other parents..all by ourselves…so we don’t have to hear the obnoxious ones. 😉

    Sharon (aka PuckGal) 2 years ago

    You and your husband are probably the smartest of all!

Sean Whelan 2 years ago

These are all pretty obvious. If you’re willing to physically confront a ref or coach then you’re insane. I will encourage my daughter in every sport that she wants to play and help her in every way I can. The only thing that will make her do is shake her opponents hand after every game. Anyone willing to compete against you is worthy of your respect and a handshake afterwards

    Sharon (aka PuckGal) 2 years ago

    You would think they are very obvious however a hockey coach recently had charges brought against him for tripping opposing players during the handshake. Crazy I know but it is happening.

Samantha 2 years ago

I have to say that while I agree with this post, there are appropriate moments to be hat parent. My example is that it got my dad red carded and banned from the next two games. I can promos that he would do it again. He never raised a hand but he got right in the refs face and yelled himself hoarse. It didn’t take long, all the while, people stopped the game when the ref refused, and carried my brother to our vehicle a floored it to the ER. He had been kicked in the back of the head by another player when he saved a ball from scoring. He played soccer, so they are trained to kick.

As for myself, unless something along those lines happens to my kids, I will sit and stew in my own angry juices for a while and try to calmly talk to my kid about whatever went on after the fact.

Claudia Schink 2 years ago

I agree on all of them,except one.If they dont want to play anymore,i will make them finish the season,you dont start and than chicken out.Next season,different story,they dont like it anymore,they can choose something else.

Tracey 2 years ago

Oh my goodness!! Eeeekkk!! Thank goodness i read this, i think i’m becoming one of “those” hockey mom’s. My daughter is also a goalie…

    Christy 2 years ago

    Me too (baseball). I accidentally said dammit when they erased the scoreboard before I got a picture of it for family. Ooops.

    Sharon (aka PuckGal) 2 years ago

    Tracey, Sometimes I think us goalie moms get a pass….crazy is not a way of life for us!


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