As a coach, there are many things that must successfully come together to create a good team environment and a successful cheer season. It would seem that on the list of important factors, parents would not necessarily be rank high. Quite the contrary; parents play a vital role in the success of their child’s cheer team.
We’ve certainly all heard the stories of the crazy cheer moms, and watched the Lifetime movies and reality series illustrating the extremes of cheerleading, but in real life settings parental support can make or break a team. Below you will find several Do’s and Don’ts that will help you to become the most effective cheer parent possible, without crossing any lines.
Do – Educate yourself about the sport. This is not so you can coach your child or tell the coach how to do her job, but so you can better support your child and her needs.
Do – Volunteer and actively participate in organization or school functions. Many teams select a team parent to be a liaison for the coach. If your team does not have one and you think you are up to the task, volunteer. Keep in mind this position does not put you in charge of anyone, but allows the coach to have a dependable “go to” person. Responsibilities of a team parent may include providing snacks and beverages during games or competitions (or creating a calendar and delegating different parents to this task so the responsibility is shared), organizing fundraisers, ordering team apparel, and coordinating team functions like Holiday parties, etc. If you don’t want to take on a huge responsibility like being a team parent, look for smaller tasks such as hemming uniforms, ordering apparel, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask the coach what you can do to help.
Do – Promote good sportsmanship. It is very difficult for a coach to enforce good sportsmanship requirements with their athletes when parents aren’t in line with this goal. Set a good example not only for your athlete, but for the entire team.
Do – Get to know your athlete’s coach. You don’t need to be best friends, but maintaining a solid relationship will ensure that communication lines remain open.
Don’t – Expect favors. Just because you now know the coach, and are maybe even the team parent, don’t feel entitled to special treatment. This will cause one of two things to happen: 1) you may receive that desired special treatment and, in turn, be resented by other parents, or 2) you will receive the exact opposite from the coach.
Don’t – Talk negative about other children, teams, or parents. The old adage “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all” has never been more applicable. As an adult, you are responsible for encouraging all children and not fostering negativity.
Don’t – Over-step your boundaries. You may feel as if you are far more knowledgeable and capable than your child’s coach, but unfortunately you have not been hired for that position! Questioning the decisions of a coach in public is very detrimental, especially if done in front of athletes. In order to feel confident about themselves, athletes need to be confident in their coaching staff. Concerns should be addressed in private.