My daughter plays in this 3-3 basketball league.  Nothing too complex.  12 minute games.  Running clocks and kids call their own fouls.  They do their own substitutions.

Basically, pick up ball.

There is supposed to be no parent involvement for most of the kids in this league.  I think the younger kids are allowed to have a parent assist.  When I say younger, maybe 3rd or 4th grade.

That aside, parents can’t help themselves though.  They start shouting out things.  “Move to the ball.”  “Watch the help side.”  “Take it to the hole.”  Etc.  Some are coaching, when they clearly should not be coaching and letting the kids play.  Removing the whole point of this league.

Well, this past weekend for reasons not entirely clear to me (insert sarcasm here), parents weren’t allowed to enter the building and watch the games.  They just wanted the kids in the building.This did not sit well with some parents.  I didn’t realize this was for the world championships of 3-3 basketball.  But, most abided and either stayed in their car (like me because it was cold and rainy out) or tried to peer through the window to watch.

A funny thing happened without the parents present. 

Word got back to me through a moderator of this league, that some of the kids ACTUALLY HAD MORE FUN WITHOUT THE PARENTS THERE!

Really??  That is somewhat shocking.  Actually it isn’t, but that is fantastic!

More and more adults are controlling every aspect of a kid’s athletic development.  The one thing that is slowly starting to deteriorate is free play and/or playing pick up games.

I feel that this is a VALUABLE piece to a kid’s athletic development.

These kids have to learn the subtle nuances of a game.  They can’t do that if a coach or a parent is constantly yelling what to do next.  They have to figure out how to just PLAY the game so it will register with them better.

The worst is the parent that has to be that “coach” on the sideline.  They feel the kids aren’t getting it and need to hear that extra voice to help them out during a game.  Now that kid is confused and is looking over at the parent more than the coach.

I see it in my training.  A parent might not be saying anything because my training doesn’t necessarily determine the fate of the free world.  But, as soon as that kid feels he/she messed up there is a quick look over at the parent.

Once or twice, I let slide.  You do that multiple times in a training session then I know what that kid is doing during a game.  LET THEM PLAY.  Let them figure it out.  Let the coach actually coach.

Parents are sucking the fun out of a lot of the youth sports.  And I get it.  You already went through youth sports and blew your chance at truly being successful at it.  So you want him/her to put in more effort than what you did.

Or you want your kid to experience the same successes that you did have in sports.  Thus, you know that much more what is needed to experience those successes.

Either way, you need to allow your athlete to just play and figure some of this out for him/herself.  I told this moderator, you might have a really popular league with the kids if you keep the parents from watching the games permanently.

In the big scheme of things, this isn’t for the school or a travel team.  It is just a 3-3 league to have some free play.  Pick up ball.

On a side note, I was told they didn’t allow parents in the building in August and actually had some parents not register their kids for the ensuing leagues after because the parents weren’t allowed to watch in August.

My answer would have been, this isn’t about you.  This is about the kids and sometimes it is alright to let them play sports without us parents taking it over.