At some point or another, the vast majority of parents who have ever played a sport—and even those who haven’t played a sport—will think about coaching their child’s sports team, particularly at the recreational level. Regardless of what compels you to become a coach for your child’s team — whether it be a dearth of volunteer coaches, a passion for the game, or simply a desire to spend more time with your child — the decision to do so can come with a number of advantages, as well as potential drawbacks.
It takes a lot of time and effort, and it’s not always an easy job either when you’re coaching a sports team. In order to be successful as a parent coach, you need to learn how to balance your own parenting responsibilities with those of your coaching clients, as well as the duties of training others and the complexities of interacting with other parents.
Learn how to make sense of what it means to coach your child’s team so that you can not only make the correct calls but also go the distance when it comes to coaching and parenting your child. Here’s how.
Benefits of Coaching Your Child’s Team
Being a part of your child’s team as a coach can be a rewarding experience that the two of you will be able to fondly recall in the future. When done properly, the bonding that takes place has the potential to make your relationship with your child stronger.
According to Todd Kays, Ph.D., a sports psychologist, author of “Sports Psychology for Dummies,” and owner of Athletic Mind Institute, “one of the biggest benefits of being a parent coach is the quality time you get to spend with your child.” Another benefit of being a parent coach is the opportunity to make a positive impact on your child’s life. “Because of the nature of our culture and the fact that we are so busy and isolated from one another, the greatest advantages are the opportunities to spend time together, the teachable moments, and the relational connections that may be made.”
According to Jamey Houle, Ph.D., the chief sports psychologist for Ohio State Athletics, “No one knows the child better than the parent.” [Citation needed] A lot of effort is spent by coaches attempting to get to know their players, but a parent already knows their child’s abilities, areas of growth, physical strength, attention span, and attitude.
According to Dr. Houle, having a parent serve in the role of a coach can ultimately be of great benefit to the young athlete. It is not necessary to start from square one in establishing trust and comfort because those qualities already exist.
According to him, in the end, it might turn out to be a very supportive connection that gives the child the opportunity to feel unique or even cool due to the fact that their father is the coach.
Common Challenges of Coaching Your Child’s Team
Being a parent coach provides you with the opportunity to spend quality time with your child in a way that is different from the norm. On the other hand, it may also be riddled with difficulties. There are several anecdotes in the world of youth sports about youngsters having tumultuous relationships with their parent coaches.
According to Dr. Kays, all too often, parents are so enthusiastic about sports and coaching that they don’t know when to stop talking about it. After this point, the parent-child interaction is centered almost entirely on athletics.
They discuss different strategies while driving home from the game and while eating dinner together. In their spare time, rather than engaging in activities that are not related to sports, they watch movies. If you are not careful, it has the potential to get out of hand and spiral out of control.
It is also not unusual for the child of a parent coach to experience feelings of isolation and isolation among their teammates. Not only will some of the other children on the team reject or isolate your child because they are concerned that what they say will be relayed to the coach, but these other children may also harbor some anger toward you, the coach.
Even if you make every effort to treat everyone fairly and reduce the perception of favoritism, there will still be some children who, together with their parents, will assume that favoritism is taking place. Some parent coaches will attempt to counteract these impressions by being more demanding or critical of their children in the role they are coaching them in. They may also exert more pressure on them and have larger expectations for them.
However, this strategy also has the potential to fail. Not only do the other children and their parents notice the difference in treatment, but it also has the potential to make them uncomfortable. In the end, it ruins the experience for them, and they may start looking for other places where they may play.
In addition, it can be humiliating and unpleasant for your child if they have to face the rest of the team while you are being demanding and critical of their performance. Even worse, it can lead to resentment and undermine the connection between the parent and the child.
Dr. Kays warns that coaching your child can have both positive and negative effects on them. You may be more invested in your son or daughter in some respects, but at the same time, you may be more hyperfocused or tougher on them, which may cause them to develop resentment toward you.
Make sure you give serious thought to what you are getting yourself into before agreeing to be the coach of your child’s team. This will help you avoid some of the problems that come along with the position. You should also make sure that the reasons you have for wanting to train others are appropriate.
Tips for Being a Successful Parent Coach
Ask Your Child for Their Opinion
Especially when they are younger, some children like having their parents serve in the role of team coach. On the other hand, there are those children who find release in sports and who would rather their parents watch from the stands.
It is a very individual choice to have a parent serve in the role of a coach. According to the findings of one study, some young athletes may consider involvement from their parents as an experience that is joyful and intrinsically motivating, but other young athletes may view it as an experience that is more fraught with the feeling of being under pressure.
Have a discussion with your kid about the possibility of coaching before you take the job. Before you answer in the affirmative, check to see whether they are at ease with the idea of having you fill this function. If they do not want you to coach their squad, try not to take it personally if they do not agree with you doing so.
Always keep in mind that your primary responsibility as a parent comes first and foremost when it comes to athletics. Therefore, despite the fact that you may feel dissatisfied, you should make an effort to follow their wishes. You could serve as the team manager or volunteer in some other capacity if you want to get engaged in the project.
Evaluate Your Reasons for Coaching
The fact that you want to spend more time with your child or that you want to share your passion for the game with them are both wonderful reasons to coach the team your child plays on, but they are not sufficient ones to do so. You need to keep in mind that you are accountable for the well-being of all of the children participating in the activity, not just your own. The intention is for your coaching to be beneficial to each and every member of the squad.
Be truthful with yourself about the reasons you have decided to take the initiative. Are you volunteering to be a coach because you enjoy the sport and believe that you have something valuable to contribute to the team? Or are you a coach because you want to make sure that your kid has a chance to shine or that they get enough playing time on the team?
According to Dr. Houle, that is something that should be avoided at all costs. It is perhaps one of the most damaging things we as parents are capable of doing to our children.
He advises parents who are thinking about coaching their children to first assess their goals before moving forward with the idea. Who exactly is the focus of this discussion? What exactly does this imply for my situation? You need to be very certain that you are participating in coaching for the appropriate reasons. If you take on the responsibility for the wrong reasons, it will undoubtedly turn out badly for you.
Focus on Keeping it Fun
Tiger Woods, a legendary golfer, states in the preface to his book “Training a Tiger” that the fact that his father made sure their golfing sessions were always enjoyable was the best part of learning the game from him. He claims that it is incredible to see how much a youngster can learn when they are engaged in an activity that they actually enjoy.
Therefore, if you want to be a great coach, you need to figure out how to make the experience enjoyable, not only for your child but also for the other children who are participating on the team. Dr. Houle suggests putting your attention on the aspects of your young athlete’s performance that they have command over, such as how much they enjoy their sport and how hard they try.
“A coworker of mine once told me that as a parent, you only get to ask two questions: ‘Did you have fun?’ and ‘What do you want for dinner?'” he says. “What do you want for dinner?” he asks.
Be Willing to Listen
It is essential to acknowledge that serving as the head coach of your child’s athletic team will not always be a walk in the park. There will be times when both you and your child feel disheartened or frustrated. Expect this.
The most important thing for you to do is to cultivate a setting in which your kid is comfortable talking about how they are thinking and feeling.
“Check in with your child to see how the relationship is doing and see how things are going,” is something that Dr. Houle recommends. “Inquire about the status of the team’s operations.”
After then, you should pay attention to what they have to say. Naturally, the younger your child is, the more challenging it will be for them to express their emotions and concerns; you may find that you have to read between the lines a little bit.
Dr. Kays notes that there are instances when a parent coach will come to the realization that they want things that their child does not want. “The social aspect of athletics can be more important to some children,” the author writes.
If you find that you and your partner want different things from the activity, it is imperative that you do not coerce your child into becoming something in which they have no interest.
Your overarching objective should be to safeguard the bond between the parent and the child. You do not want the relationship to become strained or tainted as a result of the coaching. Keep in mind that your bond with your child will endure a lifetime, while sports will only last for a brief period of time.
One common error made by parent coaches is failing to differentiate between their job as a parent and their function as a coach. According to Dr. Houle, there will be occasions when it will be challenging to accomplish this.
In order to assist children in differentiating between the roles of parent and coach, he suggests instituting some kind of ritual that is age-appropriate and can be performed by the whole family.
He argues, “It is absolutely vital to maintain good limits,” and he emphasizes the importance of this. “You take on the role of the parent whenever you are at home. You will act as the coach whenever you are at the practice.
One possibility is to say something along the lines of “When I place my hand on the car door to leave the field, I am Dad/Mom, and when we get out of the car for practice or a game, I am Coach.””
Make sure you have at least one or two assistant coaches to whom you can voice your concerns and ideas as a further means of implementing boundaries. This will not only assist you in maintaining your objectivity with regard to your child, but it will also provide you with a new point of view.
According to Dr. Houle, “it is impossible to eradicate that,” despite the fact that having a bias for one’s own children is natural and unavoidable. Therefore, having someone who will keep you accountable is beneficial.
In addition, Dr. Houle recommends that you base your decisions, whenever it is possible to do so, on facts, whether it be about playing time or positions. For instance, you can base your decisions off of the team’s statistics, such as their batting average or their serving percentage in a sport like baseball or volleyball, respectively.
Be a Parent First
You need to always keep in mind that you are a parent first and foremost when it comes to being a parent coach. This is possibly the single most crucial thing you can keep in mind at all times. Although it’s crucial, coaching comes in second place.
Make sure that you continue to interact with your child in other ways besides those that include sports. Spend some time together doing activities that are not related to sports, and make sure that the subjects you discuss during that time are not about sports.
Additionally, make an effort to maintain a constant awareness of what is occurring with your child. Are they having fun watching the game? Exist alternative activities that they would rather be engaged in? What kind of grades do they have during the season? How are they getting along in their friendships?
Keep in mind that there are many facets to parenting, and that coaching is only one small component of the bigger picture. Make every effort to keep your parent-child relationship front and center, as it is the thing that is most important. According to Dr.
Kays, one strategy for achieving this goal is to concentrate on values rather than persons.
He is commenting on how you are instructing the fundamentals of a talent. “I call them the mental talents, and they include things like communication, teamwork, composure, attention, resiliency, and the capacity to bounce back from mistakes,”
These are the kinds of things that you should be teaching your kid regardless of whether or not you are the coach. Therefore, rather of concentrating on making your child into a world-class athlete, you should put more of your energy towards teaching them skills that will serve them well throughout their entire life.