Legendary Hoops Coach Brenda Frese Says Parents Are Killing The Joy and Overall Purpose Of Youth Sports Experience

Many of us played sports growing up, and we each had our own unique experience.

Youth Sports Have Changed For Worse

We were taught to be competitive and work in unison at the same time, respectful to our opponents while still displaying good sportsmanship, and to always “have fun.”

According to Maryland women’s basketball head coach Brenda Frese, parents are beginning to rewrite the unspoken rules around youth sports, thanks in part to their overly competitive and eagerly misplaced passion at their children’s sports outings. 

“I watch things being driven by adults,” Frese told USA Today in an interview published Dec. 10. “I would sit at soccer games and cringe when we’re, as adults, ripping officials. My son now referees for soccer and has had parents go after him and others in the parking lot.”

Brenda Frese Is Legendary Women’s Hoops Coach

Frese, who has had a very successful tenure as Maryland’s head coach, can understand what it’s like to be passionate about sports. It’s a part of her job.

But even someone like Frese, who has over 600 career wins at the Division I level, knows that winning isn’t everything, and she detailed as much when she spoke about her sons playing basketball, and how competitive it was at such a young age. 

“People get all consumed by the ego and just winning at a young age,” she told a USA Today reporter. “I remember my kids started basketball, and they’re being put in a zone defense to win a game. And I’m like, ‘What are we doing?’ We should be teaching these kids man before you teach them zone because they need to learn the game.

“We’re not trying to win a game for 12-and-under basketball.”

Learning the game is what is most important, especially when you want to take it seriously down the line. Frese is stating that you need to learn all aspects of the game in an environment that won’t rip your head off when you lose, or make a mistake, so when the pressure is up you can have all of the knowledge to respond and be successful.

“What are we doing to youth sports?” Frese asked. “It’s not that serious. We’re taking the joy away. I watched one soccer game where a dad completely obliterated his kid who was the soccer goalie ’cause he kept getting scored on.

“Just watching some of the temper tantrums by adults makes you sad for the kids and their only time to go through a journey with sports. And to see that joy stolen from ’em makes me really upset when I sit and watch it because it shouldn’t be that way.”

Placing these types of expectations on the youth as they are trying to learn sports, or learning to love the sport they are participating in, can lead to them developing a hatred of the sport because of the divide it can bring between them and their family. 

While Frese can coach with that fire inside of her, she knows that you have to allow children to love the game first before you can expect them to be passionate about it.

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