As parents we may love to be involved in our kid’s lives through coaching. It’s a rewarding experience to watch your son or daughter become a pro from your excellent know-how of the game. However, before you pick up the whistle, you might want to consider these issues that both parent-coaches and children might face throughout the season.
Run the decision by your kid: Before you decide whether coaching the annual Y-Ball team fits your schedule, see if it fits his or hers. Sit down with your son or daughter and ask if they feel comfortable with you playing the role of coach. For some, they’ll be happy with the idea, but for others, they’ll be worried about the judgments of other players or that they will not live up to your expectations. By sitting down and making a pros and cons list before the season begins, you can see what your child is truly worried about. Also, it may be worthwhile to evaluate your intentions. Will winning take priority over fostering a learning opportunity? Will a coach role help or hurt the current relationship with your child? These answers are not to be overlooked.
The double-edged sword of favoritism: There is nothing worse than watching your son’s or daughter’s basketball game only to see them in for a total of five minutes. This is why parent-coaches always try and distribute playing time equally. The most obvious line of favoritism is having your child in the game most of the time. It will be up to you to judge, based on their skills and the age level of play, whether or not the most skilled players should receive the most playing time. Always keep in mind that parents come to see their kid in the game.
However, the second edge of the sword when parent-coaching is underplaying your child. Doug Skinner, a parent from Los Altos, CA, coached his two boys in soccer, baseball and basketball until they reached high school. When asked why he decided to coach he replied, “I did not want an overbearing, hot-headed dad yelling at his kids like I had seen before.” When asked if there is anything he would have done differently he replied, “I wish I would have played my kids more. I was always worried about parents getting mad at me for over-playing my sons. My kids always tended to slip to the back of my mind because I was worried other parents were not happy with the amount of playing time their child received.”
Don’t bring practice home: If your son or daughter couldn’t make a shot at practice, you may be tempted to go into after-hours with him or her to work on some technique. This is not a bad thing, but he or she may be discouraged if practice didn’t go well. Make sure you can turn off the “coach” as soon as you get home and provide an environment where your child can tell you how he or she is feeling and you can be supportive. Instead of pushing practice in the driveway before you even head into the house, let your child come to you to ask for some pointers, or to play a game of horse.
Appreciate your player: Parent-coaches tend to get very excited when they see other members of the team improving throughout the season. All too often they forget to monitor their own child’s progress. Make sure you track every player’s improvements and give EVERY PLAYER praise for working hard to learn the game. Not only does remembering to praise your players on the court increase the trust and bond between you and your child, it is the true joy of coaching.