How to make the most out of coaching your own child

At grassroots level, a lot of coaches are parent volunteers who end up being responsible for coaching their own child as part of a team. It’s such an important job because in most cases a lot of teams would cease to exist without these wonderful volunteers.

May 31st 2022

Written by The Coaching Manual

This scenario creates a fantastic opportunity for a parent and child to bond further and to create memories for the years to come. Unfortunately coaching your own child is not always a positive experience. We are here with a few helpful tips to ensure that the shared experience is a positive one.

Have a ‘Pre-Game’ chat

Before you think of volunteering have a discussion with your child about how they feel about you potentially being their coach. If they really are apprehensive then perhaps it is best that you remain the most supportive you can be from the sidelines both for them and the coach. Offer to help in other ways that aren't as obvious if you would like to play a greater role and volunteer your time.

Set boundaries

Ensure there is a difference between you being the parent and the coach. Your child will need to know that when you are the coach you need to treat all players equally but as soon as you become the parent again you need to make sure your child knows that you care about them the most. Work hard not to muddy the waters on this. Being ‘coach’ all week can only have negative implications!

Don’t overcompensate 

Strike the right balance between praising and penalising your child. If a parent coach leans in favour of their own child too much it can create a negative environment in the team. There is obviously a problem if you go too much the other way and are too hard on your child to make a point. If you have an assistant or a friend, check in with them to see if they perceive you are striking the correct balance.

Let your child make up their own mind

Don't discuss other parents and other players with your child, particularly in a negative vane. It makes things really tricky for a young child who is probably very good friends with the player and whose parents you may be criticising. The child needs to make his own mind up about the other players and you should not be looking to form a coaching alliance with your own child.

Set a good example

Try to act on the sidelines in a way that would make your son or daughter proud. Remember, your child is not the only one that’s performing during the game (don't follow them around with a spotlight over their head). You are also a performer and the quality of their experience is firmly in your hands. 

Conduct yourself in such a way that you clearly communicate to your child and those around you that this is just a recreational game for children, played by children because it's FUN.

Don’t bring your work home

Don't get sucked into the whole week revolving around training and matches for you and your child. Try not to spend the rest of the week practicing further at home and talking about last week’s game the whole time and the so called big match coming up.

If you need to save time planning and preparing for matches/training  The Coaching manual can help. A vast library of sessions/practices to choose from and easy to use session planner tools can save valuable time which can be otherwise spent with the family. Sign up here.

You could also encourage your child to practice at home when you are not around. TopTekkers is the perfect tool to do just that, learn more about it here.

Keep your cool

It can sometimes be a lot easier to be angry with your own child in comparison to the other players. If this happens your child may feel singled out and over time this can have negative effects on your child’s confidence and enjoyment of the game.

Positives

The major positive aspect includes being able to spend quality time together. Additionally, your child perceives that he/she gets special attention, praise, and perks, such as being on familiar terms with the coach. 

In the child’s perception, having you as a parent as a coach is an opportunity to receive motivation and technical instruction that others on the team do not get. 

From the perspective of the parent, being both coach and parent provides the opportunity to teach values and skills, the opportunity to see how your child interacts with friends, and the ability to see your child’s accomplishments and take pride in them – Weiss & Fretwell 2005.

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