Hubby and I have had countless conversations about his experiences in coaching.
He’s a college coach now and, like myself, has been on the other side of the coin as a student athlete as well.
There’s one thing he mentioned in the earlier years of his coaching career that really struck a chord and that I will forever keep in the back of my mind as my boys journey through the winding roads of amateur athletics:
“If some of these parents had any idea just how much we can tell about their parenting styles from coaching their children, they’d probably never let them come out for the team.”
At the risk of making my husband sound like a bitter old man, I find it necessary to stress the discernment in his statement: Some of these parents.
At this point he’s coached and trained hundreds of guys in camps, traveling leagues, on high school teams, and at the college level–and for the negligible number of horror stories I’ve heard or witnessed where an over-zealous parent berates my husband, another coach, the ref or even gets a little carried away at their own child, I can honestly think of at least 50 stories about superb parents who are their kids’ number one fans, their chauffeurs, equipment managers and personal uniform dry cleaners all rolled into one.
But even gold star sports moms and dads can grab a few takeaways on how to better serve and support their kiddos’ success in sports by hearing a coach’s perspective.
So without further ado, here are five tips proven to make each season more fun for you…and more rewarding for your young athlete:
1. Communication with coach is crucial.
Pardon my alliteration, but this tip is often overlooked, but key! Discuss the coach’s team rules, what’s expected of your child, and what opportunities exist for them to better themselves outside of regular scheduled practices. Most coaches have trainer connections that your child can take advantage of, and they often have know of off-season camps that offer instruction, practice, and even opportunities to play in other leagues or tournaments.
2. Emphasize the necessity of hard work to your child.
This one is not only important, it’s absolutely necessary. In sports (and in life) those who have the most fun and the most long term success are the ones who make a conscious effort to do a little “lagniappe” (something extra). They show up with a good attitude, they listen when being coached, and they work hard when given a task. Emphasize that practice is the most important place to work hard and push yourself, because subconsciously almost every player gives it their all during a game anyway.
3. Do. Not. “Coach”. Your. Child. From. The. Stands. Please.
It confuses them. It distracts them. And in many case, it can cause a drop in performance or embarrassment! We’ve seen it time and time again–parents yelling at players to do something that is exactly opposite of what the coach is telling them to do. Don’t be that guy. Please, don’t be that guy.
Clap for them. Yell your head off with words of encouragement. Stomp those feet and smile like crazy, please but leave the coaching to the coach. If you absolutely can’t control your urge to give instruction during the game–keep it limited to something about effort.
4. Don’t make excuses for them.
On so many occasions, I’ve overheard parents telling their kids that the officiating was terrible or that the other team got lucky. But the fact of the matter is that most times a team loses because on that night the other team just played better. Your child can handle a loss, and they’ll needs to get used to the idea that it’s just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes–on the scoreboard and in life.
5. Use the magic phrase.
The best piece of advice I can give in this arena doesn’t have anything to do with performance at all. If you really want to help your young athlete excel in any situation, there’s a tried and true statement that will always help. Tell them, “I love you, and I’m proud of you.”
So, don’t try to be your child’s “other coach.”
The best thing that you can possibly do to help your son or daughter excel in athletics is to be a good sport and a good parent.