About Me

Jack Perconte

When the Look Shows Up?

Youth sports coaching tips of the day

I am pretty sure the author of the popular statement, “If looks could kill,” came up with it while watching an athlete responding to parental advice about how to play sports.

I’ve seen “the look” so often in my coaching career, including from my own kids. What is ironic is that the player’s coach says something to them, they are all ears. Their parent gives the same insight, and the deadly eyes appear.

All sports parents know, or will learn, of the look – the cold, dark stare with the annoyed body language. The player is inwardly screaming out, “What in the world can you tell me that I do not already know?” or “I have counted; you have said that six million times already in my lifetime, so enough already.”


“The look” shows up at different ages but few parents avoid the day it comes, no matter how compassionate and helpful the parents are. The most prominent time for it to show up is the 12-year-old age, give or take a year.


You have gotten them this far, but it is time to hand over the athletic coaching reigns.” When parents insist on grilling players after the look has arrived, many players begin to dread playing, or at least wish mom and dad would just disappear. This tension-causing situation is most difficult when a parent is the child’s team coach.  In that position, parents must try to treat their own as if they are just another team member and let the other coaches give most of the playing assistance.


Things parents can do:


  1. Understand that this behavior means one thing – their child is normal, and it is time for them to shout out for independence. Give the child some space even if that means not attending every game.
  2. Do not act as if your day revolves around that day’s game, even though it probably does.
  3. Deflect any advice you give – “Remember what your coach tells you to do.”
  4. Tell your child it is natural parent behavior to want to help but that you will try to get better at not offering continual advice. They will at least respect you for that and understand more of what being a parent is about.