being in the stands vs. the field

3 Reasons Why Comments From the Stands Are Rarely Helpful

This Brilliance Nugget is not bashing parents making comments at kids’ sports games by why comments from the stands are really helpful. As you will read shortly, I have been there and done that. How often do we make comments or give advice from the stands instead of stepping onto the field? Here it goes.

We were sitting in the stands watching our sons play baseball. I’m talking to another Mom. Since we are just watching – rather than playing ourselves – we have much time to comment. One could comment (and we do to some extent) on all kinds of things that are happening, or not happening, on the field.

  • Was the umpire right by calling the last batting attempt a strike (our player was at bat)? 
  • Why didn’t player XYZ slide into the second base? Boy, did he get lucky for getting there nonetheless!
  • Man, the catching is off today.
  • The outfielders should have backed up more because the batter is a big kid with a powerful swing.

The list of possible and actual comments goes on and on.

When kids are at bat, parents often say encouraging things like, “You got this!” There also is much advice, from where the batter should place their feet, that he should choke up on the bat, he is hitting too early (or too late), … That list is also quite long.

These kinds of comments may be fun for the parents. After all, they spend a long time in the stands doing little but watching and talking to each other.

But is it helpful to those on the field? 

The comments the kids, coaches, or umpires do not hear are immaterial. 

The ones the kids hear are often distracting to them. My son told me so several times. I pretty much keep my mouth shut now when he bats.

The fact is: I am not on the field. None of us parents are. Not even the loudest Dads or Moms. Most of us couldn’t do it any better than the kids are – most of us would not do nearly as well. 

We have coaches who are on the field. They are there to coach.

We have umpires trained in all the rules of the games, even the exotic ones. Most of the time, they also have a better perspective of what is happening (they are closer to the action).

Do any of them make mistakes? Sure. Everyone does.

How Often Do We Comment Or Give Advice From The Stands Instead Of Stepping Onto The Field?

My point is not to talk badly about parents making comments in the stands while watching their kids play sports. What is happening at kids’ baseball games (or even pro games!) happens all the time in all areas of life. How often do we make comments or give advice from the stands instead of stepping onto the field?

All the time! In sports, politics, business, teaching, parenting, relationships – you name it.

The three reasons not to give comments or “advice” from the stands are:

  1. It doesn’t make a helpful contribution to the players (except general cheering)
  2. It is often distracting, taking the players extra focus and concentration to play successfully.
  3. The advice is often wrong because it is given by people who don’t fully see what is going on (but they think they do) or don’t have the expertise to provide the advice.

What Is A Great Practice?

A good practice is: Ask yourself whether you are on the field or in the stands? Are you playing and contributing? Or are you merely judging from the stands?

Lastly, if you know what is going on, you can give valuable advice (instead of saying your opinion), and you want to genuinely contribute, well, then find a way to get on the “field.” Volunteer, become a coach or participate somehow.

I’m Curious

  • What do you think?
  • Can you think of a time when someone gave you advice or judged you even though they were not familiar with what you were doing?

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