This post could also be titled: How Not To Look Like an Ass on the Sidelines
These recommendations work for both recreation level sports and competitive level
1) Don’t heckle or dispute the ref any more than the usual throwing up of your hands and going WHAT?? Anything more and you embarrass your spouse, your kid and the other parents. You are just showing everyone that’s it’s not about the game or the kids, it’s about YOU and how much smarter YOU are than the ref.
2) Do NOT ever tell your kid or someone elses kid what to do during the game. This includes everything from detailed instructions on what do next to even yelling: “Run” or “Go”. The only instructions kids should hear are from the coaches or his teammates. Parents and other spectators trying to tell the player what to do is extremely confusing, and to be honest, you are probably not even telling them the correct thing. You should be cheering and only yelling positive stuff: Great Job!! Nice One!! Yeay!! Etc.
3) No critiquing the play of the players during the game. Even the slightest insult, like: “Oh…Cody should have passed to Brandon” will really piss off the parents of Cody; and make you look like a jerk (since there’s a 99% chance that Brandon is your kid)
4) No bragging about your own kid (out loud, or even to your spouse) during the game…you can gloat all you want in the car or at the office or to the grandparents. No one needs to hear how awesome your little Beckham Jr. is, they are also watching the same game and they think their Freddy Adu is the real superstar of the game.
5) Do not say anything negative about individual kids on the opposing team. Their parents can hear you and even if they can’t, how does it look for a 40 year old dad to insult a strange 12 year old to make his own kid look better, pretty pathetic, huh?
6) Don’t help the coach during the game unless he asks, although if you want to pick up trash after the game or put away the sports bench while he’s giving the kids the post game speech, it would probably be much appreciated.
7) Try not to cheer (or laugh) when the other team screws up. Nothing looks worse (or could really hurt a child) than you cheering when someone drops an easy fly so your son makes it to first base.
8) Don’t run out on the field if your kid gets hurt. I know it’s your first instinct, but it’s a big no-no. If it’s serious, you can meet him back at the bench when the coach carries him over.
How to be a GREAT sideline parent: do the complete opposite of the above. Your child will appreciate it. By just quietly watching the game, cheering good plays and appreciating the entire game, not just your childs achievements, you will enhance it for everyone. After the game tell your child how great s/he was and ask if s/he had fun. Nothing more. No suggestions, no asking about specific plays (unless it’s real positive like: “wow, I bet that homerun you hit felt great, huh?”). Let him know by your comments he’s awesome in your eyes no matter what.