Cosy's Corner: Parental guidance required

May, 25, 2012
5/25/12
7:57
AM ET
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she explains how to manage crazy volleyball parents.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
“The score is wrong!”

All it takes is one parent to yell out that simple phrase and an avalanche of shouts, whistles, yells and arms frantically waving at the scorekeeper begins. And once it starts, they won’t give up until the score is checked and re-checked. The scorekeeper has 3.2 seconds to flip the plastic number before “Score!” is yelled. If she flips too fast and they don’t see it, that’s also a problem. And if she accidentally flips the wrong side, parents work themselves into a rabid frenzy.

We’ve all seen it; we’ve all experienced it -- the crazy volleyball parent.

Now, I consider myself lucky because my parents have to share their attention with my four other siblings, which has kept them in a certain state of sanity. Most of the time.

Usually parent “over-involvement” is humorous and harmless, but it can also cause problems with team chemistry and individual performance. Sports can bring out your best and worst. The same goes for parents. This week I thought I would write a blog on how to manage the crazy volleyball parent.

Stop negative cheering
The game from the parent’s perspective is always interesting.
-- Parent of the defensive player: “Why can’t we get a block? Girls, close the gap!”
-- Parent of the setter: “Come on, pass the ball. Let’s get a pass this time!”
-- Parent of the hitter: “Higher sets! Push it up!” Or my favorite, “SET! THE! MIDDLE!”
Guess what? We hear it, and it’s not helpful. We all need each other to make a play and we need support, not blame.

Make a contract
I was once on a club team that had some overzealous parents. During our team bonding night, we decided to make our parents sign a contract. We wanted to start things off right, so we came up with a list of rules. At the parent meeting, we had them agree to the following:
-- No talking to coaches about playing time -- that’s our job.
-- No coaching from the sidelines.
-- No trashing on teammates or coaches.
-- Only positive cheering allowed.
-- No yelling at the referees or line judges when they make a tough call.
-- No lectures in the car ride home on how we can improve.
The parents laughed, but we made our point and the stage was set for the season.

Communicate
Let your parents know how you feel. It’s great that they’re passionate and involved, but you don’t want volleyball to be the core of your relationship. I always enjoyed a close relationship with my mom, but sometimes I just didn’t want to talk volleyball. She was so excited to talk about everything (the recruiting, the games, the plays), but once I let her know how I felt, she gave me my space. I need to “process” after a long tournament, and the only thing I want to discuss on the way home is which In-N-Out Burger we should stop at. I like to have “volleyball free” dinners at home and focus on other topics with my parents. It helps keep a well-balanced relationship, which I value.

Parents want us to be successful and reach our goals. They mean well; they love us. But sometimes we just have to lay down the law.

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – how to prepare for nationals – here.

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