Playing youth sports is one of the best things about being a kid.

It's about making new friends, getting sweaty, and living your best life learning a game or activity you love. It's low-stakes fun that can build confidence, teach sportsmanship, and encourage teamwork.

High school girls play against middle school boys in a game of basketball in Newtok, Alaska. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images.


But there's something that can take the fun out of youth sports: pushy parents.

Every parent wants their kid to do well and enjoy themselves, but the line between being a fan and being a fanatic is easy for anyone to cross.

In this video from I Love To Watch You Play, real youth athletes shared how they feel when their parents are hard on them or try to coach from the stands.

They may tense up...

All GIFs via ilovetowatchyouplay.com/YouTube.

... or get embarrassed ...

and feel the kind of stress no kid should.

While the enthusiasm often comes from a loving place, parents pushing their kids to be better, faster, and stronger could make their kids lose interest entirely. In fact, 70% of kids quit sports by age 13 because it's not enjoyable or fun anymore, The Washington Post reports.

"We have to ensure in our society that we don't forget that we're still working with young kids," Anthony Lipani, a former high school football coach told the Democrat & Chronicle. "I think lines are blurred at times because of the competition."

Here are some ideas from young athletes for what to say and do instead.

There's no shame in being excited and enthusiastic, but nonverbal affirmations can go a long way too.

The same goes for after the game, win or lose. Show them you care and love them no matter what.

There's nothing wrong with encouragement, but remember, it's supposed to be a hobby, not their profession. If you feel yourself getting stressed, take a beat and remember what a joy it is to watch your child do something they love.

Because at the end of the day, it really is only a game.

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