Our Program

Message from Shipley’s Athletic Director

Mark Duncan, BA Lehigh, M.ED Cabrini
The Shipley School recognizes the commitment it takes to be a student athlete, as well as the parent of a student athlete these days.

Athletics can be one of the best experiences in a child’s development. At Shipley, we do all that we can to make it the most positive experience for our students and to create memories filled with moments of joy and growth as an individual.

Parents and fans also need to understand that there is a part of this experience that is very complex and sensitive in the mind of our loved ones on the playing fields. I have had the pleasure of teaching and coaching your children and am thrilled when I can see our Mission translated onto the playing fields at all levels of play – from Lower School PE classes and 6th grade athletic contests, to league or regional championship games, meets, and races.

I have been fortunate enough to use Athletics to guide me through my life – from the high school varsity level to the NCAA, and eventually to Shipley. I know firsthand how sports and competition can shape our impressionable student-athletes.

At Shipley we work hard to reflect our Mission Statement and to make sure that participation in athletics is a positive experience for everyone involved. To help support that, I have worked with Dr. Cristina Fink to produce a guide to make sure our actions on and off the playing fields reflect this same Mission in a positive way. Thanks for the part that you play in making this possible.


About the Author
Cristina Fink, PhD, MS. Sports Psychology
Dr. Cristina Fink has counseled top level elite athletes for over 17 years, from Olympic team members and World Champions to Professional teams in Mexico. She competed in two Olympic Games as a high jumper and was Coordinator of the Sports Psychology Program for Mexico. She is now working with teams at Drexel University and collaborating with YSC and The Union Junior Soccer Teams and is the Director of Sport Psychology for HPS (High Performance Sports) in the Philadelphia area.






The Benefits of Sports

Participation in sports can contribute to the physical development of children with the added benefit of becoming healthier adults. Children who acquire the habit of frequent exercise rarely turn into sedentary adults or “couch potatoes.”

Participation in athletic endeavors is an excellent opportunity for children to develop other healthy habits such as good nutrition and personal hygiene.

It’s a great way to have fun, keep busy in spare time and create relationships with other children who also take part in sports.

The Benefits of Sports

  • Physical development
  • Healthy habits
  • Nutrition and general health
  • Fun, build relationships

Psychological Benefits

  • Concentration
  • Self-Control
  • Self-Confidence
  • Self-Esteem
  • Self-Image

Personal and Social Values

  • Become honest, responsible person who respects rules
  • Respectful to others
  • Tolerant, faithful and generous to others
  • Learn to work as a team
  • Perseverance
  • Face up to adversity
  • Work ethic
  • Good winner and gracious loser – learning from both experiences

All of these things CAN be learned from sports – IF the adults make it happen!

 Coaches’ Role

In team sports, coaches must often make decisions that seem to favor or go against particular players.

Normally, a coach makes decisions based on the collective interests of the team while trying to integrate each player in order to develop their potential. At times, this integration can be very complex. Inevitably, there will be players who seem to be more favored than others.

It is important to not make comparisons of the advantages that some players seem to have. Instead, evaluate the performance of the team in general during the season and note how each individual has progressed during this time.

Parents should understand how difficult a coach’s job is and respect what the coach is doing without interference or criticism, especially in front of their children or other members of the team.

Accept the decisions of your child’s coach and allow him/her to do the job at hand. Your child will benefit far more from this approach.

Do not interfere with the coach by telling your child what he/she should be doing on the field or in the court. It can only lead to confusion if your child receives contradictory instructions or loses confidence in his/her coach. Don’t create conflicts or stress that will jeopardize your child’s progress and performance. If you have doubts or are not happy with your child’s situation, make an appointment with the coach or the Athletic Director and explain your concerns.

  • Coach needs to make decisions for a group while trying to help individuals
  • Evaluate the performance of the team
  • Difficult job – especially if parents are critical

Parents’ Role


Many parents make an enormous effort so that their children can participate in sports. Undoubtedly, without parents’ support, most children could not participate with the same dedication required by many sports. Because of this, we recognize and applaud the role parents play in team sports.

This effort, however, is not enough to obtain the maximum benefit of the sport. The manner in which parents handle the challenges that arise in team sports will have just as profound an impact on a child’s development.

Parents can be greatly affected by watching their children participate in sports. A parents’ behavior during their children’s athletic events can affect a child’s performance and development. It can also contribute to others’ perception of the school.

Most children perform poorly when they receive instructions from their parents during a game, hear unwarranted criticism, see gestures of disapproval, or feel embarrassed by their parent’s behavior. Your child’s performance will be better if you conduct yourself discreetly. Enjoy being a spectator without interfering in the game.

Parents who criticize, ridicule, bad-mouth, or insult the referee or the rivals set a bad example for their children. Always try to be a good role model by respecting the referees even if you disagree with their calls.

Players, coaches, and fans of competitor teams also deserve respect—not to mention your child’s coach and team. This respect must always be evident even in the most difficult moments. Don’t allow yourself to be provoked by the actions of others. If parents from the opposing team are acting poorly, don’t make the mistake of doing the same. Distinguish yourself with positive behavior.

  • Enormous effort to support children’s participation in sports
  • Time commitment
  • The way parents react has a profound influence on the child’s development
  • Parents may suffer while watching children participate in sports. This is normal because what happens during the competition affects both parent and child and we don’t like to see our children suffer. But it is not a tragedy!
  • Make an effort to have a good time and be prepared to suffer without it causing you to lose control
  • Respect the coach
  • Respect the referee
  • Respect the team
  • Respect the opponent
  • Distinguish yourself with exemplary behavior: You are teaching your child!

Keys to Success

  • Take advantage of sports to strengthen your relationship
  • Parents and coaches are on the same team – they need to complement each other
  • Help your child be part of a team
  • Recognize your child’s effort
  • Show love and respect regardless of what happens on the field
  • Remember that this is a learning process – if you make a mistake, talk to your child about it

Coaches and parents must assume this responsibility.


  • Set clear expectations for behavior (attendance, work)
  • Ask about practice
  • Provide praise – be specific
  • Give responsibility
  • Conduct yourself with composure


  • Don’t set outcome expectations (winning, being a starter)
  • Don’t criticize the coach
  • Don’t show conditional love
  • Don’t get over-involved – it is not your activity
  • Do not attack

After The Game

No matter what the result of the game was, approach your child as if it were any other day.

Always be affectionate in a natural way. Don’t make it look like you’re forcing yourself to be positive even though you’re disappointed – a simple hug, handshake, or thumbs up is often enough. Your facial expression should convey the message to your child that you understand how he/she feels (happy, sad, or angry). If your child did his/her best and behaved in a sportsmanlike manner, congratulate him/her no matter what the result was.

If your child feels like talking, let him/her express her feelings. If not, respect his/her silence. It’s often necessary for an athlete to be alone in order to understand the situation. It’s enough that he/she knows that you are there and that you can talk later on when he/she feels like opening up.

Don’t make recriminations or try to correct what he/she did wrong – that is the responsibility of the coach.

  • Let your child take the initiative
  • Let his/her feelings come through
  • If they feel like talking. . . Listen
  • If they want silence, just be there
  • Do not criticize the coach or the team, let them do the talking
  • If you don’t like what the coach is doing, ask for an appointment

When Your Child Doesn’t Play Often

All parents would love for their children to play in every game and be a star. This doesn’t always happen in team sports. Inevitably, there will be children who play less than others and perhaps aren’t as skilled as others.

Even though it seems that to play more is better than playing less, there is no direct relationship between playing time and an athlete’s progress. Many times, children who play less turn out to be more successful in the long run.

No matter how much playing time children get, the most important thing they can do is take advantage of the time played. Keep in mind that they will be playing a lot during training sessions.

Players who are not in the starting lineup should learn to accept the situation, show team spirit, not cause problems, and collaborate with the team even though they are not playing as much as others. You want your children to be team players and to give it all they’ve got when they do play.

At the same time, children who are not getting as much playing time should not resign themselves to this role and should keep trying to improve in their workouts.

Bad-mouthing the coach in front of your child, his/her teammates, or other parents can have a negative impact. It is far more appropriate to teach your child to work hard and be patient.

  • Make sure he/she is enjoying practice and feels challenged: focus on effort
  • Encourage your child to ask the coach what he/she needs to do – focus on improvement
  • Be realistic about your expectations and keep lines of communication open. If you are constantly criticizing the coach, your child may not want to tell you how he/she feels

When your Child is the Star 

If you are the parent of a child who really stands out on his/her team, you may find yourself dreaming about the future. Don’t let these thoughts dominate your life. The history of sports is full of star athletes who never realized their full potential. It is a very hard climb – even for those whose ability makes them stand out; the further up the ladder they go, the harder it gets.

Many promising athletes never reach their goals because they perceive themselves as stars much too soon. This provokes an enormous amount of stress that child athletes aren’t prepared to deal with. As a result, their progress is hindered.

Unfortunately, parents are usually the first to start fantasizing about their children’s athletic ability, thus hurting their children. Keeping things on an even keel is a much healthier approach.

  • You may find yourself dreaming about the future – be realistic
  • Danger of your child feeling “conditional love”
  • Be aware of the stress involved in being the star
  • Keep things in perspective

Ten Suggestions

1)   The time children spend in sports is one of the most important periods of their lives. We should try to make it a wholesome and beneficial experience.

  Parents can take advantage of the athletic experience to strengthen their relationship with their child – don’t lose the opportunity to do so.

  Parents’ attitudes can be an asset to child-athletes. Always act correctly in order to help not hinder your child.

   Sports should be stimulating and gratifying for children and not something they dread. You as a parent can make sure this happens.

  Parents and coaches are on the same team. Parents have their role; so do coaches. These should be complementary. Center yourself in your role as a parent and respect the coach without interference or criticism.

6)   In team sports, children have to learn how to be part of the team, sacrificing their personal issues for the good of the team. Make sure you help your child become a team-player.

  A child’s journey to excel in a sport should be made progressively. Children’s teams shouldn’t try to function like professional teams. They need to have a style appropriate to each age group. Remember, your child is not a pro.

   As parents it is important to recognize your child’s limitations and value his/her dedication and effort more than the final score.

9)   Children need to know that you love them and that you respect and value them as people – regardless of what they do on the field.

  As parents, you need to accept success and failure as part of the learning process your child will experience in order to be able to advance. Help your child take advantage of both situations in order to benefit their progress as an athlete and a person.


The Shipley School

814 Yarrow Street, Bryn Mawr PA 19010
T: 610.525.4300 F: 610.525.5082
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