Most sports leagues survive because plenty of moms and dads are willing to step up the plate (pun intended) and volunteer to coach. And we at SportsSignup applaud those sports parents willing to give up their weeknights and weekends to coach a dozen 8-year-olds and teach them the finer points of baseball/soccer/football/lacrosse. Being a coach is not an easy job! But even if you want to coach, it’s important to know that one of hardest things about being a parent-coach is knowing how to handle coaching your own child.
Can you take off the coach hat?
One of the hardest parts of being a parent-coach is to know when to stop being the coach and go back to being the parent (and vice versa). The car ride home should not be the time for you as the coach to review what went wrong, who messed up, or the finer points of each play. Instead, it’s time for you to be the parent and simply say “I love to watch you play.” This is a very hard line to walk and something many parent-coaches struggle with. You also have to be careful to not talk about the other players or parents within their earshot; if there are any issues that’s for you the coach to know, but not something any player (including your own) should be aware of.
Can you be fair to your child?
A lot of parent-coaches overdo it when they are trying to show they don’t give their own kids extra special treatment. They actually go too far to the other side and can be unfairly critical and rough on their own children. This protects them for parents arguing that the coach’s kid gets to slide by. Can you be fair and impartial when it comes to your own child, which also means praising them when they deserve it? A lot of people automatically put a lot of pressure and responsibility on the coach’s kid and that’s a tall order for young players to live up to. Can you be fair and give them the praise and rewards they earn without fear of people accusing you of playing favorites?
Can you handle how coaching may change your relationship with your child?
Here’s one baseball dad’s story regarding coaching his son;
He wanted to pitch (which he had never done before) and his coach had no experience teaching pitching mechanics. He struggled to get the ball over the plate the first couple of practices. I asked him if he would like to work on it with me. He said he did because he really wanted to pitch. We went out to work on pitching one evening and it was about as successful as the batting practice. He wanted to do it his way whether successful or not. I got frustrated and he got mad. He stomped into the house saying that “I never let him try anything” and “I’m always telling him what to do”.
It’s entirely possible your child is not comfortable with you being their coach. Most 4 year old tee ball players don’t really care who the coach is, but a 12 year old looking to join a high powered travel team might have an opinion on it. The last thing we’d ever want is to have sports cause friction between a parent and their child! Youth sports is something that should being a family together, not drive them apart.