Did your child sign up for a sports team and are you thinking about taking on the role of the coach?
Being a coach for your child can be a wonderful experience. However, it can also be incredibly challenging and in some cases can end in disaster.
This is why you need to toe the line very carefully.
So, how do you make sure you nail the parent-coaching role? Check out this parent coaches guide to learn the top tips for coaching your own child.
1. Get Their Input First
Before you decide to become your child’s coach, it’s very important that you first get their input.
Some kids will love the idea of their dad coaching their team, while others may despise it.
If your child doesn’t want you to be their coach, don’t take it personally. It may just be that they want to try this new sport independently without any parental influence.
Whatever their reasoning, make sure you have a frank conversation with them beforehand. It’s much better to get things out in the open from the get-go than to have an emotionally-charged conversation two months into the season.
2. Separate the Roles
If you decide to be the coach to your child, it’s very important that you separate your role as a coach from your role as a parent.
If you don’t separate the rules, it could lead to your child feeling overwhelmed and confused.
This means that when you’re coaching your child on the field, you shouldn’t bring in issues from the home. In general, you should avoid talking about your home life during coaching hours as a whole.
When you’re at home, keep the coaching talk to a minimum. While it’s okay to practice with your child outside of the normal hours and offer them pointers, don’t make it an all-consuming topic.
3. Treat Your Child Equal to the Other Players
Treating your child as you would any other player can be very difficult, if not impossible.
However, do the best you can to not play favorites. However, keep in mind that favoritism goes both ways.
If you’re being harder on your child than you are with the other players, that’s a form of favoritism.
You should discipline and praise your child just as much as you do the others.
4. Hire an Assistant
Hiring an assistant coach can really help alleviate some issues that come with being a parent-coach.
For starters, there’s a chance that your child will be more open to feedback from an assistant than they are from you. If the feedback is coming from an assistant, they’ll be less likely to take it personally.
Also, an outsider’s perspective can really be helpful when it comes to gauging and avoiding favoritism.
For example, you could have your assistant be the one in charge of creating lineups and dividing children into groups during practice. This way, your child will never take it personally if they’re not the one starting the game or if they’re not in the same group as their friends.
5. Take a Step Back
If you’re ever unsure about what to do in a situation involving you and your child, take a step back and think about how you’d handle the situation if it was someone else’s kid.
For example, if your child disobeys your directions during practice, ask yourself how you would handle the situation if another kid at practice was doing the same thing.
Chances are, you’d handle it slightly differently knowing that you’re not their parent.
6. Keep Their Age in Perspective
When coaching your child, it’s very important that you keep their age in perspective.
If they’re elementary-aged, you need to keep in mind that sports are really all about having fun, getting exercise, and trying something new. This means you shouldn’t put too much pressure on your child (or the other players) to be superstars.
That being said, you should still teach them to work hard and push themselves during games and practices.
At this age, you don’t always need to start the best players and focus only on winning.
If you’re coaching your child at an older age where winning becomes more important, things can get a little trickier. Do your best to be objective about your child’s abilities. As we said, hiring an assistant coach or a co-coach can really help you make the tough decisions when it comes to playing time and starting lineups.
7. Explore Your Motivations for Being Their Coach
Before you sign on to be your child’s coach, it’s very important that you explore your own motivations for doing so.
Do you want to get closer to your child? Are you coaching because no one else volunteered? Do you want to help your child develop the same love for sports that you have?
Whatever it is, it’s important to keep your motivations in mind throughout the season. It’s not a bad thing if you want to coach your child to help them become a star athlete. However, you shouldn’t become so carried away with this notion that it ruins the fun for your child.
8. Draw On Experience From Other Coaches
Chances are, you had a coach growing up who you really admired. Well, now’s your chance to be that coach for your child!
You want to be proud of your child as an athlete, but keep in mind that they also want to be proud of you as a coach.
So, keep a level-head, have fun, and do your best to be a good role model for your child. You could even create a patch that says “coach” to wear during games to show your child how much you enjoy your role as a coach.
Parent Coaches: Are You Ready to Coach Your Child?
Now that you’ve read these tips about parent coaches, you’ll be better prepared for coaching your own child.
Also, be sure to check back in with our blog for more parenting-related tips and tricks.