The PCA Blog

Positivity Amidst Pandemic: What We Can Learn as Parents


A recent article in the Washington Post  titled “The Little League World Series bubble [due to Covid] shows it: Without parents, the kids are all right” commented on how refreshing it was to see kids without “parental interference ...where these ballplayers have giggled after beating a tag, cried after getting pulled from the mound or shimmied their hips and danced as if no one was watching.” 

And while the pandemic has had a significant negative impact on children, COVID did force some situations upon us that may have been positive. As Jason Sabo, Ph.D., site supervisor at Lee Health’s Pediatric Behavioral Health Practice, wrote, “...the pandemic can allow our resilience to shine through and show our children how to make the best of even the worst situations.”

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As we return to school and youth sports this fall, families need to continue to focus on creating a positive environment for kids and a number of PCA resources can be helpful:

Resources for Parents

From our Parent Course, we share how to cheer on your athlete from the sidelines using a technique we call "No-Directions Cheering."

It’s disconcerting for athletes to have parents yell out instructions.

Avoid giving your child advice on the sidelines by committing to No-Directions Cheering. Eliminate verbs in your cheering because you can’t give advice without verbs. For example, “Pass the ball to Sarah” is a no-no because it uses the word “pass” as a verb to give directions. On the other hand, “Great pass, Sarah!” gives no directions. You’re just commenting (appreciatively) on what you see Sarah doing.

Here are some examples of No-Directions Cheering:

  • “Great effort!”
  • “Good hustle!”
  • “Way to play defense!”
  • “Nice hit!”
  • “Terrific play!”
  • “Way to go!”

No-Directions Cheering is important because your child will do better if it’s his game. So provide encouragement without direction – or even enjoy the game in silence. The more space you leave him to be the actor – a proactive player rather than a puppet on a string – the better.

This resource is from a case study in PCA Founder Jim Thompson’s book, The Power of Double-Goal Coaching

Sideline Confrontation: In a crucial situation near the end of a tight game against a strong opponent, the official makes a call against your team that appears wrong. Two parents of your players, outraged by the call, begin to yell at the officials. Your team loses narrowly. The parents continue to scream at the official while your players look to you expectantly. As a Double-Goal Coach®, what should you do?

As bad as things are, they can get much worse. Your first priority is reining in your outraged problem parents and monitoring fan behavior. And I do mean “your” parents. Parents come with players, and it is your responsibility to shape their behavior to avoid parent/coach conflict. Here’s how:

  • If you have an assistant coach, have him take players to a meeting place away from the field. If you are the only coach present, ask your captains to gather the team at a meeting place and wait for you there.

  • Approach the yelling parents to quiet them down. Be firm without causing any further escalation. “I need you to leave the officials alone right now!”

  • Empathize with the parents while reminding them that they are violating your team culture of Honoring the Game. “I know that was a tough call to take, but I need you to stop and set an example for our team.” If Honoring the Game is part of your team culture, remind them now. “Remember, we’re a team that Honors the Game."