Parents of youth that play ultimate have some important responsibilities, as well as lots of good questions. Take note and ask away!
Be a supportive spectator
First and foremost, you need to be a spectator who understands the Spirit of the Game. Because youth ultimate is self-officiated, parents, coaches, and even players who are not on the field must refrain from influencing an on-field discussion of the rules or a foul. This is especially hard for some parents, particularly those who may have experience cheering or booing calls made by referees in other sports!
Your main job is to be positive. Clap for your child and their team, but it’s ok (good, even!) to cheer when a kid on the other team makes an amazing play. It’s also appreciated if you applaud good Spirit — like the careful resolution of a foul or rule dispute, or when a member of your team helps a fallen opponent get back up.
- For more guidance, read USA Ultimate’s Spirit of the Game guide for spectators
Parent with spirit
As the parent of an athlete who is exploring sports as an elementary or middle school student, you should take a long-term approach that ensures your child learns to love sports and be active throughout their life. One way to do this, especially in ultimate, is to focus less on the score and more on having fun and improving.
Practice asking constructive questions of your young athlete. Instead of asking “Did you win?” after a game or scrimmage, try some of these:
- “How did you play today?” and follow-up with
- “What was your best moment?” and/or
- “What could you improve?”
- “What was your favorite moment in the whole game?” with a clarification that you don’t care which team(s) were involved!
- “What sort of spirit did the teams have today?”
- “How was your spirit today?”
Learn the basic rules (and help your child learn them)
Of course, after the game or even a point you can discuss an on-field decision with your child. In such cases, it’s helpful to know the rules so you can help your child learn them, an learn how to talk about them calmly and confidently during a heated moment in a game. You can start with this video, and then follow the subsequent links to simplified and official versions of the rules.
- 10 simple rules of ultimate
- Official rules of ultimate (including a link to a printable PDF version!)
- Volunteer ops (e.g. how to help your coach: at practices, at games)
- Playing/learning and pick-up ops (beginner/hat leagues; pick-up games)
- Dad throw?
- Mom throw?!