What should I do when watching competitions?

Information

Most tournaments include an information sheet in each contestant’s registration package. You should check the sheet for the rules governing parent behavior. In most junior tournaments, parents are not allowed within 50 yards of their child during the round except for limited contact to pass water bottles, snacks, etc. and perhaps to bring them accessories such as an umbrella. If you have any doubts, locate tournament staff and they will be happy to explain the rules.

From where should I watch competitions?

From the beginning of their tournament career, let your child know from that you are interested in watching their competitions and that you will watch from the most convenient place, wherever that may be. They should also be aware that you might not always watch and you may disappear during a round and return later on.

Sit down with them prior to the competition and have a proper discussion about what you will be doing and observing during the round. Do not allow them to dictate to you exactly what you can and can't do. If you are going to spend hours, days and often weeks at golf tournaments, do not end up watching from behind trees or from two fairways over.

Don’t position yourself in your child’s line of shot or as a target down the fairway or behind the green. Simply observe from a reasonable distance.

Body language

Remember that your body language is a method of communication when your child is on the course. Your child will pick up on your body language while they are playing their competition.

Avoid showing stress, worry or anger during matches. Make sure your body language is calm, relaxed but interested, even if you are feeling something completely different.

“[You should] never expect your child to cope with poor shots, maintaining composure, keeping perspective, and taking personal responsibility...if you are unable to cope watching from the sidelines.” Dr. C. Harwood, Loughborough University

Applauding

Applauding can be used as a means of showing social support by acknowledging well-executed shots by your child and other competitors. Be aware that clapping can also be used as feedback – a visual and auditory way of recognizing and reinforcing desired behavior. Children will associate what you applaud with desired behavior.

Charting

If you find watching tournaments difficult or boring, try keeping key statistics of your child’s game that can then be used to give feedback to your child after the match and the coach at the next training session.

  • What should I say before the competition?
  • What should I say and do after the competition?
  • My child can't handle losing