How to Be the Sideline Parent Every Kid Wants

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 Sometimes it feels like it’s always sports season in our family, but with the coming of spring rainshowers and warmer temperatures starts an annual ritual in my home that means longer hours in the barn, a mad scramble to find tack stored over the winter, and a flurry of clipping, shoeing, etc.  Yep – it’s horse show season!

Equestrian sporting events are a lot like other sports when it comes to parenting.  There is a LOT to do to help our kids get ready, whether driving to and from practices and games, or helping wrangle equipment.  And like most sports, I spend a good portion of horse show season like this…leaning on the rail, watching and cheering.  


Horse shows, like many of the sports our kids play, are often long and tiresome affairs, for both parents and kiddos.  Weather can range from blazing hot to pouring rain, sometimes in the same day.  It can be easy to let the long days get to you, so I’ve put together some tips on how to be the best sideline parent you can – one that your kid athlete will be proud to claim!

Be Positive

It’s important to support your child, whether they win or lose.  Focus on the positives – your child likely feels pressure already from their coach, their team, and if they are like my daughter, from themselves.  Try to be a place of encouragement and positivity. If your child is on a team, cheer for the whole team. If your child plays an individual sport, be positive and supportive of all kids who are competing.  It goes a long way to support your child and set a great example for other parents, who, in my experience, can be just as competitive as the kids…which leads me to my next point….

Make Friends with Other Parents

No kid wants to be the kid whose parent gets into a screaming match with another parent.  I pretty much embarrass my 16 year old daughter just by existing – if I make a spectacle out of myself on the sidelines, she would probably fall off her horse dead of mortification.  The best bet is to arm up with something tasty to help break the ice and make friends! Yes, the kids are competing, but we are ALL in the sideline parenting game together.  For me, there’s no easier way to start a conversation than by sharing a cold drink and a snack..that’s why I headed to Walmart to stock up and save before our first big horse shows this season – and there’s nothing better to keep  you hydrated on the sidelines (and on the field, because let’s get real – the kids are totally raiding your snacks) than POWERADE® and keep you out of the snack bar than Ritz crackers and other tasty snacks from NABISCO!  And it was great timing too, because the POWERADE® 8pk of 20oz is on rollback at Walmart – time to stock up for the season! Plus, check for a coupon hanging on the neck of the POWERADE® to save $1.50 on NABISCO 20-pack MultipackSave! I was also able to score a coupon for a savings of .75 when you purchase a 12-pack or larger NABISCO Multipack – it was right on the RITZ Bits Cracker Sandwiches box!

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What I love about POWERADE® is that it keeps me hydrated even on the hottest of days, which helps me stay cool and definitely less cranky.  It’s great for my daughter too, when she inevitably comes out of the ring so thirsty, but too busy to stop and have something to eat or drink.  This is why the RITZ Bits Cracker Sandwiches Multipacks are so great – they are in convenient individual bags – perfect for sharing with other parents and kids – so they are portable, but there are plenty to last all day.


And they are the same great buttery cheesy goodness that we know and love from RITZ Bits Cracker Sandwiches…so make sure to stock up at Walmart and you will be well on your way to being a sideline hero!


Don’t Argue with the Coach or Talk Bad About the Judge/Referree

Just don’t.  It sets a bad example for the kids and can end up hurting their chances for success in the long run.  For me anyway, part of sports is learning how to deal with things that may seem unfair, bias, prejudice, and yes, even criticism. So even if you know you are right, grit your teeth and let your child deal.  It’s part of the game, and part of life.  Plus, chances are, it’s going to irritate your child.  

Don’t Sideline Coach

I’ll be honest, this is so hard for me.  It’s hard for me in practice, it’s hard for me in competition.  When I see something my daughter could be doing better, I want to tell her, because I want her to win.  Time and experience has taught me that that leads to hurt feelings in competitions, and all-out arguments in practice.  Everyone is happier, and it stays WAY more fun for everyone if you let the coach coach, and let your kid do your thing. It’s been a hard lesson to just sit back (especially in practice) but that’s what I try my best to do!


Be Prepared, and Be Prepared to Help

I am a horse show mom veteran (we’ve been doing this for 8 years), and you may be a veteran sideline parent for your child’s sport.  Like me, you’ve probably developed an arsenal of things that you know you need to survive.  I always have a sideline bag prepped with things that I need – in our case, sunscreen, boot cleaner, ace bandages and bandaids.  Add in some extra NABISCO multipacks, featuring Mini CHEESE NIPS and WHEAT THINS (my fave!) and POWERADE® to refill the cooler, and we’re all set.


 But don’t forget to share – help out that newbie sideline parent, or the veteran who forgot something at home. Next time around, it could be your kiddo in need and you’ll want someone else to step up and help out! Sports is all about teaching our kids to cooperate, play fair, and be good sports, right?  We can show them how to do it right on the sidelines!

So as my daughter gears up for competition, I’m gearing up for a season of trying to be the best Sideline Hero I can! Here’s hoping that all of our kids have a happy, safe, and FUN sports season!


Check out other ideas for being a sideline hero here, and let us know in the comments how you are the best sideline parent you can be!


  1. Thomas Gibson says

    I have always supported my daughter no matter what has happened. I will always reward determination and effort.

  2. Julie Waldron says

    My daughter’s didn’t play many sport, just a couple years of basketball in elementary. The parents were good, just cheered them on. But my brother played basketball in high school, I’m ashamed to say that my Dad was one of “those” parents. I love my Dad dearly but it was very embarrassing. :(

  3. Terry says

    What an awesome post especially the point about not being the sideline coach as I see many parents doing this.

  4. shannon fowler says

    I grew up figure skating, and a lot of the mother’s were overly involved and competitive. these are some great tips for parents. It can take the fun out of it when parents get out of control.

  5. Alexandria Adkins says

    My son is 4 just getting into little league t ball and he’s super excited although it takes a lot sometimes his happiness keeps me going!

  6. Natalie says

    It is important for sideline parents to not get super competitive and argue over calls or sports.

  7. Bryan Vice says

    As a parent of an “active’ kid loves soccer and basketball . we always bring snacks and plenty of water!

  8. says

    This is such a great post. Being a sideline parent is basically like being the number 1 fan while being a coach. You go through everything with the kid.

  9. says

    I think the best sideline heros are the ones with the best snacks. All the kids would love you if you have the right ones!

  10. says

    I never considered all of these things before. But I think they would be great ideas for parents who don’t want to embarass their kids. Because the events should be about the kids and not about us.

  11. My Teen Guide says

    OMG, I have vivid memories of being a sideline mom! I was my kids’ cheerleader, watergirl, and driver. I think there were times that I cheered so loud it embarrassed my kids. LOL. Anyway, I think showing your support in whatever sport your child plays is very motivating for them, and of course, being ready with a rehydrating drink and a quick snack also pays off too.

  12. says

    Our girls did not play sports. My niece and nephew do, and I really admire the dedication it takes from their parents.

  13. Claudia Krusch says

    When mu Son was on a team I always brought snacks and drinks for the whole team. These are great tips for being a good sideline parent.

  14. says

    My son played Little League for a few years, and he sure did need snacks afterwards. He got sick of the other team throwing the ball at him to walk him, so he quit. And it was the coach (on the other team) that told the kids to do it.

  15. says

    These are all great tips and awesome reminders that our kids are trying to have some fun out there and we need to remember that. I always try to make friends with other parents when I’m at a sporting event. I also love bringing treats for all the kids.

  16. says

    These are great tips for being a good sideline parent. Hope more parents read this I have witnessed some ugly fights between parents. Which just blows me away at how some of the act.

  17. says

    What great tips! My kids don’t currently do any sports, but when they did, I would follow a lot of these rules. I couldn’t believe how some parents screamed at the coach or their kids!

  18. says

    These are all great ways to be the best sideline parent. My grandkids are in the middle of baseball and I’m appalled at the way some of the parents from opposing teams act. I mean, they’re 7 and 8 years old! You’d think they were in the major leagues the way they scream and insult the other team. I just shake my head and continue to clap and cheer in a positive manner.

    • says

      Isn’t that the worst! That’s what I tell my daughter – it’s not the Olympics, there is never a reason not to be kind!

  19. robin rue says

    Yes, I am always that mom with the snacks and drinks. I try to be as prepared as possible :)

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