Gordon MacLelland: Part 2

  • Have you seen a difference in youth athletes when youth sports parents positively embrace their role by supporting the player also the whole team?

Of course.  A positive culture that focuses on the things that matter can lend itself to an amazing environment being created for the player by the coaches and by the parents on the sidelines.  Notice we use the word positive culture here.  We are not going to say winning is not important; of course,  it is and can be too many people.  However, if a culture does not use this as its major and only success criteria then we can expect to see a major shift in attitude.

A club culture should be focussing on processes, creating an environment where learning and skill acquisition can thrive.  The culture should also be positively praising hard work, commitment, great communication, resilience, self-organisation and decision making.  If we can get coaches and parents to understand and see this being rewarded then maybe the focus can shift and we are more likely to see positive behaviour from all parties.


  • What advice would you give coaches that are unsure/nervous about preventing negative behaviour/comments from the sideline and educate parents within youth sports?

I feel very sorry for young coaches and those who are volunteers in particular in this area.  With experience and as their communication skills improve they are far more likely to tackle these areas.

However, clubs and organisations need to take the lead, the coaches should just be setting their own example on a consistent message that has already been communicated by people higher than them.  There should be messages, policies and procedures in place that allow the coach to positively reinforce the club culture without the fear of any backlash from parents.

There are a number of things that coaches can do to help this relationship. However, please take a look at the infographic below which gives a basic framework for things for coaches to think about.

  • For those parents unaware of their influential role, what advice would you give parents?

You are the key person in their life.  Never underestimate how big a role model you are.  You have the opportunity to help shape your child and their love of sport for many years to come.  You should also be enjoying it along the way – it will not last forever.

Try to improve your knowledge of what your child is going through, please visit us at www.parentsinsport.co.uk.  If you are armed with the correct information I genuinely hope and believe that you will make better and more informed choices from keeping things in perspective, the car journey home and match day on the touchline.  I personally have certainly moderated my own behaviour with my own children over the last couple of years and it has been a far more enjoyable experience.

Click here to purchase yours: Sporting Do’s & Don’ts

  • What types of behaviours/mannerisms/comments would you encourage parents to demonstrate?

Positive, Positive, Positive!  Don’t over talk a match before you get there, a child doesn’t think like adults unless we make them.

Display positive body language at all times, your child will make mistakes and there will be moments of failure.  They need to see you being happy and consistent no matter how you are feeling on the inside.

Afterwards, leave them alone unless they want to talk to you.  It is their game and if they want to they will talk to you about it I promise!  Please try not to give them the Match of the Day debriefs on the way to the car and in the car on the way home.

You are their parent, enjoy it, be a great role model and have a wonderful sporting experience together.


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Thank you Gordon, for taking the time to complete the following interview questions.

The Sporting Influencer


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