Thursday, October 28, 2010

Coaching Your Own Kid: The Questions to Ask Again and Again

I've always questioned the assumption that all parents of children who are active in sports are some kind of deranged "Little League parent" living vicariously through their children. Of course, there are some of those, but there are a great many more I've seen who are trying to figure out the best for their child, day after day.

What makes it even harder is that the answers to the questions change, so you have to ask yourself some of the same questions over and over again.

Let me give just one example:

Do I really have what it takes to coach my child? When your child is a beginner, if you know the basics of your sport, have patience, can get to practice once or twice a week and enjoy working with children, the answer is probably yes.

Now your child is a 14-year-old who wants to win the junior nationals. Can you make it to practice four or five times a week? Can you get to the tournaments several weekends a year? Can you help your child analyze her strengths and weaknesses beyond the basics? Is your own knowledge of the sport at an advanced level? Can you teach your child to win with grace and lose with dignity? No one is perfect but if you are pretty good on all of those dimensions, you'll probably be fine.

Now your child has a shot at the Olympics. All of the sacrifices your child has made, the hard work - and your sacrifices and work, too, have paid off. Can you make it to practice every day? Do you have other coaches, including strength coaches, technical experts, to help in areas where you aren't the best coach? How are you at video analysis? Setting up a training schedule that accounts for the season, pre-season and post-season? Can you take the time away from your other children, your job? Are you one of the best coaches in the country in your sport?

and those are just the questions you need to ask over and over of yourself, about one decision. We haven't even mentioned the questions you need to ask about your child yet.

This parenting stuff is hard.

I remember one day driving to practice and Ronda was at that age where she was always arguing with me about training, judo, partners and the universe. I finally turned to her and yelled,

"I'm doing the best I can! There's not a book for this, you know!"

Maybe there should be.


Samantha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Samantha said...

I was wondering what you're next project was going to be... looks like the writing is on the wall now!

Anonymous said...

You could write the book


Lance Wicks said...

yet another great post, thanks for sharing it. I coach my 7 year olds and one of my fears is that I favour or pick on them unfairly. I am terrified of them getting into competition and how I manage that!!

I interviewed Karen Briggs recently for my podcast and she is now coaching her daughter, who recently won the British Junior Champs and is an up and coming athlete. She has some interesting things to say on the subject, I'll get it online soon.

A colleague also just pointed me at a blog post by a coach here in the UK about coaching as a parent. It's part of his course work for the EJU Level 4 coaching award. Thought it might be interesting to you. It's online at: