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How Grandparents Can Support Their Grandchildren in Sports

Going to Games Is Just the Beginning


Grandparents probably fall roughly into three categories: those who love sports, those who somewhat interested in them and those who are totally indifferent to sports but love their grandchildren. Those in the first category will be in the rooting section whenever possible and will avidly follow the games when they are not able to be present. Those in the other two categories may need some suggestions about how to support their grandchildren and also enjoy themselves. These suggestions are designed for team sports, but can be adapted easily for individual sports such as tennis and golf.

1. Know something about the sport.

You can learn about a sport through reading about it or watching it on TV. Books and Internet sites can give you basic information. Biographies, autobiographies and other books, even novels, can give you insight into the sport and those who play it.

2. Go to games when you can.

Some grandparents will be at every game; others will be content with attending once in a season. Of course, factors such as distance will influence your ability to attend.

3. Follow the games from home.

When you don’t attend a game, ask about it via phone or email. A team schedule will help you keep up with when your grandchild is playing. Empathize when your grandchild’s team loses, but try to emphasize your grandchild’s growth toward goals rather than the score.

4. Exhibit good sportsmanship.

When in attendance at games, don’t criticize the coaching, the officiating or anyone’s play. Cheer for your grandchild and for the team, but don’t draw attention to yourself. Be a model of good sportsmanship.

5. Get acquainted with others.

If your grandchild plays on a team, you will enjoy the games more if you know something about the other players. If you are able to attend games, you may get acquainted with other parents and grandparents in the stands. Knowing the coaches will make you feel more secure about your grandchildren's participation.

6. Keep a scrapbook of clippings.

A subscription to your grandchild’s hometown newspaper will make this easier. If the newspaper is online, you may be able to read and print stories from the online version. Many school newspapers are online as well. Others will put you on their mailing list if you ask.

7. Display your grandchild's sports photos.

Sports present some difficult photography challenges, but a grandparent who has some experience in photographing grandchildren will be able to get some good shots. Action photos are the most dramatic but also the most difficult. There are lots of quieter moments that will yield good photos. Photos can be added to your scrapbooks, posted on family websites and displayed in your home. Don't forget to ask for your grandchild’s team photos as well.

8. Let your grandchild show off for you.

When your grandchild visits, ask for a dribble demonstration or an example of a fast ball. Most grandchildren love nothing more than their grandparents' undivided attention.

9. Don't be tempted to coach.

Don’t be critical of your grandchild’s performance or give advice. The advice you might give could conflict with the coach’s directions and confuse your grandchild. All he or she needs from you is support.

10. Give sporting gifts.

Select gifts that reflect your grandchild’s interests. A new piece of sporting equipment, a video, a book or a magazine subscription will reinforce your support of your grandchild’s activities.

Is your grandchild on a travel team or select team? Learn more, or share your experiences.

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