If you have been around youth sports as a parent, spectator, or a coach, chances are you have witnessed some hostile situations. Unfortunately, it makes you very uncomfortable and ruins the experience for everyone.
The last couple of weekends, my teams participated in some very competitive tournaments here in the Treasure Valley and, sadly, myself, my players, and their parents had to witness some bad behavior. As a good coach should, I used this time to highlight the good in it. My focus: The Art of De-Escalation. In these bad situations there were tournament staff members that did an amazing job de-escalating the hostility and it was brilliant! I used these moments to show what to do when someone is getting out of hand. I noticed what these officials did. Theu followed the following steps:
First, they were able to size up who they were dealing with.
In these situations, staff had to deal with parents attacking referees (which is common in youth sports). Staffers were very good at knowing who the parents were, but were also able to show some empathy toward them, gave them validation, and calmly reminded them that this is just a game.
What’s the trigger?
The triggers were the result of aggressive play, which is common. If you been to a sporting event where someone from the team you are cheering on gets fouled and there is no call, it’s frustrating. We have all been there.
When do they time out?
The staffers did a good job knowing when to call for help. They were equipped with walkie-talkies.
The next steps?
The staffers had an action plan for the next step. Sadly, parents were ejected and could no longer watch their kids play.
Again, it is painful to see all that go down. However, I was happy to see people with skills to de-escalate a situation that could very well have gotten out of hand.