The key to cultivating optimal adult behavior (and reducing misbehavior) in Little League is “Honoring the Game.” To remember the tenets of Honoring the Game, use the acronym ROOTS, meaning respect for Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates and Self.
You don’t bend the Rules to win. You understand that a worthy Opponent helps you to play to your highest potential. You respect Officials even when you disagree with their calls. You refuse to do anything that embarrasses your Teammates. Even if others fail to live up to these standards, you live up to the standards you set for your Self.
Here are a few ways “Second-Goal” Parents can contribute to a positive Little League environment so that children will keep having fun and keep returning to baseball and softball, where they can learn the life lessons they will need long after their Little League careers end.
Before the Game:
- Make a commitment to Honor the Game in action and language no matter what others may do.
- Tell your children before each game that you are proud of them regardless of how well they play.
During the Game:
- Fill your children’s “Emotional Tanks.”
- Don’t yell instructions during the game. Let coaches coach.
- Cheer good plays by both teams.
- Mention good calls by the umpires to other parents.
- If an umpire makes a “bad” call against your team, Honor the Game — be silent!
- If other parents yell at the umpires, gently remind them to Honor the Game.
- Don’t do anything in the heat of the moment that you will regret after the game. Ask yourself, “Will this embarrass my child or the team?”
- Remember to have fun! Enjoy the game.
After the Game:
- Thank the umpires for doing a difficult job for little or no pay.
- Thank the coaches for their commitment and effort.
- Remind your children again that you are proud of them — win or lose.
This story is brought to you by Positive Coaching Alliance, and Little League University. To learn more, visit positivecoach.org.