Works For Me: Sports Mom Tips

I’m a sports mom.  I have two soccer players and a swimmer.  And it’s a little amusing to me that life has taken me down this path. I’ve never been much of a sports fan and certainly not a sports player–I have just enough physical coordination to pack Gatorade in the ice chest, and not a bit more.  But it’s a different ballgame (no pun intended) to watch my sons play sports–after a lifetime of athletic indifference, I find myself throwing around words such as “off-sides” and “full volley” like a pro.

I’m glad we’re on this path.  I know there are plenty of parents who aren’t fond of competitive sports for their kids, but my husband and I aren’t among them.  We’ve seen our kids develop self-confidence as a result of their sports involvement, and the fitness benefits are unmistakable.  They’ve had hands-on experience learning how to be a team member, how to push themselves and how to lose (and win) graciously.  It’s been good.

With spring soccer season starting to gear up (and by the way, how is that already possible?), these issues have been on my mind lately.  I’ve learned a few things in my years as a sports mom, some of which I wish someone would’ve told me at the outset.

1.  Be involved.  When you or your spouse are the coach, you generally have much more say in vitally important issues, such as making sure practice times don’t conflict with Lost.  Best of all, you can set a tone for the entire team, a tone of positive attitudes and encouraging affirmation.  It’s an excellent way to invest in a kid’s life.  If coaching isn’t a viable option for you, do remember to…

2.  …Choose your coach carefully.  The coach’s attitudes and methods set the tone for the entire season.  If you detect a win-at-all-costs attitude, this should be a red flag.  Steer your family toward coaches who are as interested in what kind of people these kids are, not just what kind of athletes they are.

3.  Avoid the drama.  As kids get older, and things get more competitive, a certain element of drama and politics can sometimes enter the sports parent scene.  My best advice?  Lay low.  Smiling and nodding politely goes a long way to diffuse drama (this is when being raised a Southern girl comes in handy), and when you continually deflect drama, you’ll usually find that  less of it will come your way.

4.  Remember why you’re doing this.  A wise parent will see competitive sports as a chance to build a kid’s confidence and teach him or her some important life lessons.  It is rarely–I hate to break it to you–the springboard to a fabulous athletic career.  I think a lot of the bad wrap that comes with kids’ sports could be avoided if parents involved their kids for the enjoyment of it, not because Junior is the next Michael Jordan, Mia Hamm, Michael Phelps or Kristy Yamaguchi.  Do it for the right reasons, and along those same lines…

5.  …It’s okay to take a break.  Kids get burn-out, too.  If you sense they’re feeling too much pressure, there’s nothing wrong with taking a breather.  An injury last fall forced my middle son to sit out of the winter indoor soccer season, and it has been a healthy break.  He remembered why he loves soccer, and he’s more energized than ever to hit it in the spring.

So, all of those tips are pretty theoretical, but there are some more practical things I’ve learned, too:

1.  Bags, bags, bags.  In our house, every sport and every kid has its own backback or duffel bag.  That bag is the permanent repository of all the necessary equipment, which cuts down on mad dashes out the door on game day.  When I launder the soccer uniform, I put it in a large Ziploc bag (to avoid Gatorade spillage, trust me on this one!) and put it directly back in the soccer bag.  Everything stays together!

2.  The dishwasher is your friend.  A lot of smelly sports equipment can be sanitized in the dishwasher.  I regularly run swim goggles and shin guards through the top rack, but there are probably more uses you could find.  Check manufacturers instructions (and proceed at your own risk), but I’m a big fan of disinfecting that smelly gear however I can.

3.  Make the kids responsible!  In this family, a big part of sports involvement is being responsible for your own stuff.  If a kid is old enough to play sports, he’s old enough to help gather the gear, get the water bottle in the dishwasher and fold the socks.  This takes a load off mom, and, even better, it gives kids a chance to be responsible.

There are bound to be plenty of sports moms reading this, and I’d love to hear your best tips too!

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63 thoughts on “Works For Me: Sports Mom Tips

  1. Blue Castle says:

    Thank you for sharing these tips. We’ve been thinking about putting our boys in soccer this year and I’m dreading the change to our laid-back routine, but I also think it will help them (and me!) to have an outlet for their energy. 🙂

  2. Carol @SheLives says:

    Add vinegar to the load when washing stinky sports stuff like athletic supporters.
    Stick stinky equipment, like shoulder pads and helmets, out in the sun for 24 hours to eliminate odors. (I like to spray with vinegar/water solution, too. But I’m told this isn’t necessary.)
    Baking soda makes nice odor protection inside sports shoes.
    One chlorophyll capsule, twice daily will dramatically reduce all odors in your little athlete in a safe, healthy, chemical-free manner. (sold at health food stores)
    Do we see a theme here? Yeah. Mine is 12 years old. I hear the odor thing gets worse and worse the closer they get to college age. [shudder]

  3. Raise Them Up says:

    Ask around and borrow what equipment you can. Kids grow fast, and they may not like the sport after all.
    We’ve borrowed cleats, shin guards and even ideas for giving them practice. A friend suggested we build a kicking wall, which we did, and now the entire neighborhood uses it for soccer, a backstop, and a host of other games.
    You can see how we did it here:
    If you have the yard for it, I highly recommend it!!

  4. Jes says:

    I have a WFMW contribution, but no blog of my own, so I’ll post it here since I happened by at the right time. What Works For Me: TV Trays! Living in an apartment, or any temporary space for that matter, I have learned to appreciate the myriad of uses of foldable TV trays/tables. Cover one with a pretty scarf, and it holds a lamp and picture frames in my living room. Two make great small end tables for the couch. And one is often getting moved between my desk (extra work space) and anywhere else I need extra space – like holding the soap bottle and tissues while I clean the bathroom sink. Two great perks: I don’t have to worry about having nice matching furniture yet (let alone the trouble of moving it into a 3rd floor apartment); and when not in use, the tables fold into a very small space.

  5. Raise Them Up says:

    Ask around and borrow what equipment you can. Kids grow fast, and they may not like the sport after all.
    We’ve borrowed cleats, shin guards and even ideas for giving them practice. A friend suggested we build a kicking wall, which we did, and now the entire neighborhood uses it for soccer, a backstop, and a host of other games.
    You can see how we did it here:
    If you have the yard for it, I highly recommend it!!

  6. jen@Balancing Beauty and Bedlam says:

    Oh, sports mom is an understatement, and you have put some amazing tips out there.
    I want to add to the “taking a break” is ok tip. Kids today are so over scheduled,over stressed with no down time. Statistics are startling. Sports commitments have taken the place of any family time (especially as they get older and into AAU). We were a year round sports family. With three boys (and 2 girls), we went from baseball, to football, to basketball (soccer was in there but had to be substituted for football as they got older). Two years ago my husband determined we were reclaiming our family life and taking baseball season off. What…I was shocked…our son was the pitcher. We were synonymous with the towns’ baseball program. We had to play – they were counting on us. My wise hubby didn’t give in. It was the best decision we ever made. AT night, the boys would ask what we had going on that evening, and I would check…nothing. Nothing…it’s still a foreign concept. It took three weeks to not feel as if I was missing something on the calendar. Guess what, after a few weeks of them making us feel guilty, they didn’t miss us. Imagine that – they lived with out us and found a new pitcher (saying that very sarcastically), and our family had the best spring/summer ever….together…enjoying life and realizing the little things are definitely the big things.
    Now, don’t get me wrong…we still have sports 7 months out of the year….we love sports, and the life lessons our boys continually confront, but it’s all about balance, and prioritizing.
    Wow – that was a post in its own right…and just think of all the comments I have about sports drama…that’s a whole other topic!!!

  7. Jackie says:

    I love the stink clearing suggestions made by one commentor. lol! I have two boys, 9 and 10 yar old – so I can relate to that!
    I was totally agreeing with you on the drama and the parents who take it all so seriously! Good grief! Let the kids have fun and learn… it’s not like they are going to get a college scholarship playing football at 8 years old!

  8. se7en says:

    I am so with you on sports bags… we keep sports bags packed at the door, what the point of keeping soccer kit in your bedroom cupboard when you need them at the sports club! Every kid, every sport in their own bag and good to go…

  9. It Feels Like Chaos says:

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom! My oldest is almost 6 so we’ve only gotten small tastes of the sports, but I can already see that you are so right about them being a good thing if done with the right attitude. I will never forget the look of accomplishment on my son’s face when he swam across the pool by himself during swim team tryouts last summer, achieving something he wanted and had worked for. Oh, it is such a privilege to be their cheerleaders!

  10. Upstatemomof3 says:

    Awesome tips!!! I am a hockey mom and loving it. Since it is only our second season with a little player I am still learning the ropes. That dishwasher tip will be coming in handy I am sure.

  11. laura says:

    these are great tips for any team mom and they encourage the non-team moms like me as I realize suddenly that I am a good team mom after all.

  12. susieshomemade says:

    This is a an awesome post!! I am a brand new soccer mom and I really, really needed these tips! And no, I can’t believe it is almost time to get that going again:-) Fun, fun, fun:-)

  13. Sheila Gregoire says:

    I love the dishwasher for sanitizing stuff! I’m always using it for goggles and other small things like that. I always feel somewhat better if it’s come out of there, because at least you know it was hot! I often clean my dishcloths and scrubbies in the dishwasher, too.
    Thanks for hosting this!
    Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

  14. Lee says:

    We’re primarily a hockey and baseball family, thanks for the dishwasher tip! We have hockey “trees” in order to air out and dry all equipment between games/practices. Brilliant invention!

  15. Aunt LoLo says:

    Oh, those are great! We aren’t into sports (yet), but between playdates, work, church, shopping trips…it seems like we need a different set of schtuff for each trip!

  16. Farrah says:

    I have one in soccer and another in football. The “cup” for the little man goes in the dishwasher but I hadn’t thought about throwing my daughter’s shin gaurds in the dishwasher as well. Thanks for the tip!

  17. Maine Mom says:

    I love the plan of having a bag for each sport and each kid. Also, thanks for the tip on cleaning smelly shin guards. I was wondering what to do with those things!

  18. llama Momma says:

    I love your sports tips!! My addition to your great advice? Stock up on the “after game” snacks when they’re on sale. I have a shelf in my basement pantry with gatorade and granola bars, so when it’s one of my boys’ turn to bring snacks, we’re always ready!
    (No last minute trip to the store saves big bucks when you’re buying gatorade or juice boxes for ten!)

  19. Holly says:

    Nice post. I am also a sports mom and I love every minute of it. I started to question my sanity during O’s first year of football but now I’m sad that it’s over and can’t wait for it to start again! Good tips!

  20. Rachel Anne says:

    I wish my 15 year old’s hockey equipment could fit in the dishwasher, but then we wouldn’t want to eat off any of the plates that would forever be contaminated.
    I’m linking to my very favorite and BEST housekeeping tip: how to make an EASY housekeeping schedule that will change your life. Thanks so much for hosting this great site. You rock!

  21. Kara says:

    Great Post! We are just starting into this and boy I didn’t remember things so rough on kids and parents… Great advise and good tips! Thanks.

  22. 'Becca says:

    Great tip about the bags! As a Girl Scout leader, I have found that my only hope of getting to and from meetings with all the right stuff is to have a special bag, different from my everyday tote bag.

  23. Kirstin says:

    Awesome tips. Both my girls play soccer and we use most of the tips you’ve mentioned…of course we’ve also always been their coaches or assitant coaches. This year our oldest will play on a team where we are not coaches but we are very pro-active in everything they do.

  24. Carol @SheLives says:

    Got a couple more you can tuck away as your athletic challenges mature:
    When nothing seems to be working for athlete’s foot, soak feet in mild clorox/water solution (1/4 cup colorox to a gallon h2o) for 15 minutes. Then have the athlete soak feet in sunshine for 30 minutes. Repeat a few times.
    Works best in summer months.
    To avoid athlete’s foot, have athlete wear shower shoes/flip flops in communal showers.

  25. Pam says:

    I am the proud Nana of a football and basketball player. Please///PLEASE….if you are the parent of an athlete….if you are not shouting encouragement at a game…
    SHUT UP!! It breaks my heart to hear moms and dads as well as grandparents “coach” from the sidelines…it is ditracting to the players and often demeaning. You have no idea what these kids go thru to play and NO IDEA what is going on in their personal lives. Cheering for the kids (on either team i.e…. great shot….good play) maybe the ONLY encouragment that child hears. Thanks for listening….God Bless, Pam, South Bend

  26. Josie says:

    I was not the athletic girl in school either. My kids both enjoy some sports and I’m learning these things too. I like your tips, some we use and some we’ll be trying soon! Thanks!

  27. Britiney says:

    I only recently stumbled on your blog but love every time saving, sanity saving, money saving idea. And the rest too. I nominated you for the Friends blogger award on my blog today. Thanks for all you do.

  28. Family Anatomy says:

    Ah, soccer. My favourite sport to watch my kids play. Your tips are right on.
    Even though childhood sports rarely lead to a professional academic career, there’s a lot of research showing that extracurricular athletics are linked to greater school involvement, and better grades.

  29. Liz says:

    Thank you for these tips. I’m a baseball mom, soccer mom and soon to be swim team mom. I need all the help I can get. Love the ziplock bag idea.

  30. spiritmom says:

    I run my boys’ baseball hats and their cups through the dishwasher. The cups used to protect them, not for drinking. Sorry if this is gross, but not doing it is more gross! And I try not to let them know I wash their hats. They say it messes up the mojo. Whatever.

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