The Worst Thing About Kids’ Sport (Mamamia! Part 19)


This one is about the things parents say to their kids at sport. Sound like any one else’s Saturday morning?

Thank you as always for reading,

xx Shanks


“Snatch it Sophie, snatch it!”
Sorry, did that parent just say “Snatch it?” Surely she meant “Catch it Sophie, catch it!”?
It was a chilly Saturday morning at the netball courts of north  Sydney  and it was possible that my inner ear had frozen into stasis. Or perhaps it was premature rigor mortis setting in, it really was damn cold. I thought I must have heard wrong.
But there it was again, “Snatch it Sophie, pull it, PULL IT!” shouted the mummy as her daughter and a girl from the opposing team each held onto the ball tightly, both eyeing the under-aged umpire nervously. Or were they eyeing Scary Netball Mummy fearfully? I was certainly afraid. I wanted to snatch my child (and hide in a warm bed); it was all a little too early in the morning for such hardcore parental “guidance”.
Scary Netball Mummy is not alone at our local netball association. There is also Scary Netball Daddy. I know it’s not politically correct to say this but my heart sinks when I realise we’re playing his daughter’s team. I just haven’t had enough coffee by 8am to get through his impersonation of Al Pacino in an NFL block buster. There’s the excoriating tone, the bullish pacing and the heated huffing as he shouts at Heidi “Focus Heidi, focus! Eyes on the ball! Get in there. GET IN THERE!”
Heidi’s coach recently saw my concerned expression during a game and tried to reassure me, saying that Heidi’s father just wanted her to try her best. I want Heidi to try her best too; I just don’t want her to have daddy issues and a steroid addiction by the time she reaches the U13s.
I’m also not convinced that shouting certain things in certain ways is actually helpful to our children. I think there’s a difference between constructive guidance and “Use your elbows!”
I should have known this was coming. At the start of the season, our pint-sized professional ball droppers graduated from the sheltered world of Netta (a relaxed game for the littlies) to the harsher world of netball (a proper game, real rules). I remember hearing a coach/mother say to her team of fresh-faced 8 year olds “This is netball now girls, we’re not in Netta anymore. Remember that.”
I do remember that, and the netball association’s rule that prohibits parents from yelling at their children from the sidelines. I have been known to break this rule, shouting (sweetly, honestly) at my daughter “No darling, no, run the other way. The other way!”  I’m yet to yell “Snatch it, pull it!” but my time may come. I know I’ve thought it, just quietly.  There’s a difference between thinking it and saying it, but maybe I too am on a slippery slope and I’m not that far away from accessing (or unleashing) my inner-Al Pacino. For my daughter’s sake, I certainly hope not!
What is the worst thing you’ve heard parents yell at their kids from the sporting sidelines? Is it helpful or harmful?

About Shankari Chandran

Six years ago we returned home from London to Sydney with our four young children and life has been chaos and comfort chocolate ever since.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Worst Thing About Kids’ Sport (Mamamia! Part 19)

  1. Alex Yahoo says:

    Hi Shanks

    I really enjoy reading your posts. I was wondering if you ever touched on the subject on one of the (for me, personally the biggest!) parental challenge, known commonly as whining and negative commentary expressed in a high pitch, out of tune soprano where emphasis is played on extending each vowel at least up to 10 seconds (ie. mummy, I don’t like this day/ oh no, I don’t want that/ not again/ it’s a horrible holiday/ I don’t want you to drive this way/ not this blue car! the other one/ not happy with you). You see, I left the corporate life after i had my first kid because I wanted to leave the world of politics, unstable boss etc behind me. Today, I’m not sure I traded well. I could make this into a 8000 word thesis but before I bore you to death, I’m very curious how you cope and manage the domestic whinging. I need some inspiration. Thank you 🙂 Alex

    Sent from my iPhone

    • duckformationfamily says:

      Hi Alex,

      This really made me laugh. I have no inspiration to offer, I just tell myself to put the pillow down. In our house it can be whinging in surround sound. They have developed the ability to go from 0 to 100 really fast too. The problem with that for me is that I have the best of intentions in terms of controlling my own responses, finding interesting ways of distracting them etc, but instead, I also go from 0 to 100 very quickly. My daughter (aged 8) is a first class whinger but she is also incredibly patient with her younger brothers and I find I am learning more from her. I hope she learnt it from me in the first place, a long time ago when I was a more patient and creative mother. Prima, my daughter, has this way of pacifying without giving in to her brother’s demands and then she distracts with everything from “Oh look, a Kookaburra!” to “If you stop whinging I’ll give you a jelly snake…”

      xxx and thank you for making me laugh. Your kids sound exactly like ours. Shanks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s