Responsible Sports Cheering

Responsible Sports Cheering —
From the Sidelines and the Stands

Roseburg Youth Soccer Association (Team Fury) - Roseburg, OR

One of the 20 recipients of a Spring 2008 Responsible Sports Community Grant!


This past weekend, fans across the country packed college and professional football stadiums to watch their favorite teams compete. Many of us watched on TV. And who among us didn’t groan out-loud when the quarterback was sacked – again! How many of us shouted out, “Oh for Pete’s sake, come on!”? We’re conditioned as sports fans to cheer wildly for great plays and to groan collectively at disappointing plays.

But taking that same approach to a youth football game? Or a youth soccer, hockey or softball game? Intellectually we know they are different – but, boy, sometimes it’s downright hard to not react the same way when the quarterback of your son’s team is sacked. It’s natural – we’re collectively disappointed. We’re rooting for our team and wanting and willing them success on the field. And we hate to see them “fail”.

But being a member of the Responsible Sports Movement means consciously thinking about other ways – maybe better ways – to support our kids while they play the sports they love. Easier said than done, right?

This month, the team from Responsible Sports together with Positive Coaching Alliance, bring you three ideas for cheering from the sidelines and the stands. Try one out – and then let us know what you think. Write us at webmaster@responsiblesports.com and let us know what you think of these two Responsible Sports cheering ideas!

“Brush it off”. One of our favorite team parent cheers is one that we learned by watching a Responsible Coach. Responsible Coaches use a Mistake Ritual to help players forget a mistake and move forward. They “brush it off” and move on. They signal that philosophy from the sideline with a visual cue (like a quick brush of the shoulder) and words of encouragement. As parents and fans in the stands, we can actually have a huge impact on whether our kids move on from mistakes. Next game, try becoming the “Brush It Off” team. When you notice a player – any player – from your team makes a mistake, make a point of calling out to that player: “Brush it off, Megan!” or “Don’t worry Megan, you’ll get it next time”. When each parent in the stands, individually and in their own way, calls out to encourage the player, the chances of that player hearing that message is all the greater. And to know as a kid that all the parents of the team – including your own parents – are behind you gives kids the confidence they need to truly brush it off and stay focused on their next play and not their last one.

Targeted cheering. We know Responsible Sports is a partnership between parents and coaches. Targeted cheering is one of the most tangible ways that partnership can come together and at the same time, support our kids during a game. Say Coach is working on improving the soccer team’s collective marking skills. During this weekend’s game, make a pact with all the parents and cheer loudly each time you see a great job of marking. Yell “Great defense” when you see it – from either your team or the opponent’s team. After the game, don’t be surprised if your kids are talking about defense and all of a sudden, the marking skills of your team improves. Who doesn’t love to be cheered? Behavior follows rewards.

Cheering Outside the “Boxscore”. It’s easy and obvious to cheer for scoring plays or virtuoso defensive stops. But most of those plays are made by the team’s best players. The other players are the ones who have the most to gain from hearing their names cheered. Cheer for normally unsung efforts, such as outfielders hustling to back up throws on the infield, consistent blocking on the line in football or chasing down routine loose balls or pucks. This keeps the players who don’t play the glory positions tuned into the game and willing and able to provide an extra boost for your team.

Want to learn more? Visit ResponsibleSports.com and download “Responsible Sport Parenting Game Day Tips”, “Responsible Sport Parenting Kid-Friendly Criticism” or one of the other terrific handouts developed by Positive Coaching Alliance.

Responsible Sports. Join The Movement. Pass It On!