Coaching Your Own Child

parent and child holding soccer ballApproximately 1 in 5 parents will become volunteer coaches for their child’s team.

Before doing so, you will need to clarify both how your child feels about this decision and how you feel about taking on the hard work involved in being a coach.

Many parents mean well when they volunteer to coach, but don’t fully realize how much time and effort it takes to do this successfully.

Some parents have found that coaching helps get and keep their children involved in soccer. Others find coaching their own children a recipe for disaster because the child resents the switch from nurturing parent to neutral or demanding coach who can’t play favorites.

Even though coaching can be immensely fulfilling, it can also be a challenge, especially if you are dealing with your own child.

I strongly recommend that anytime during sessions and games, you have your assistant coach coaching your child. Remember that they will not see you as a coach but as their own dad/mom. 
Also, if you have to provide any information to your own child, do not treat him/her as your son/daughter … treat them as your players. Sometimes coaches do not separate their emotional attachment/bias and they end up acting differently than they would with other players.
So, in correcting your own child, ask yourself, “Would I treat the other players the same way?” The answer to that question should always be “Yes”.

Before rushing into coaching your child’s team, take a moment to clarify your motives. Ask yourself the following questions when considering if you will make the commitment:
  • Am I coaching to help make my child a star or ensure my child gets extra playing time?
  • Can I treat my own child the same as the other members of the team and have the same expectations for him/her?
  • Can I be objective in team assignments and not favor my child?
  • Can I avoid favoritism?
  • Are you willing to accept your child no matter where he/she is in terms of both skill ability and motivation level and not push him/her at all times to be the best one on the team?
  • Can I modulate my emotions, especially during highly competitive situations?
  • Can I avoid comparing my child’s athletic achievement to my own?
  • Will my other children feel excluded or jealous?
  • After you have thought this over discuss the decision with your child. How does your child feel about you coaching? Ask your child if it’s okay. Talk with him/her about how you will need to pay equal attention to all the kids involved.
  • Explain how you will treat him/her just like the other members of the team during training and games, but take off your coaching hat when you leave the field.
  • Is your child concerned that your coaching will impact his/her friendships with other kids on the team?
  • Make sure that your child feels both comfortable and enthusiastic about having you as a coach, is willing to share your attention and praise with teammates and is able to accept your directions and criticism.
  • Coaching your child allows you to get to know his/her peers and gives you something to share and talk about with him/her, but it can also become a source of tension. Keep a watchful eye on how your child is handling your new role, as he/she may become overly concerned about gaining your approval or feel even more devastated by your disapproval.
  • You will have to continually work to keep your roles as parent and coach separate. Remember to be a parent first and coach second.
  • When your child experiences frustration after a game, he/she will want you to console him/her as his/her parent, not offer advice as the coach.
  • Resist the temptation to talk with your child about other team members’ performances. Once you leave the field, leave the game behind as well.
  • Don’t let soccer become the central focus of your conversations or of the quality time you spend together.

Part of successfully coaching your child means recognizing when it’s time to have someone else take over the role, either because your child has progressed beyond your own skill level or because coaching has caused both of you frustration.

Not only does this mean avoiding favoritism, but it also requires not being tougher on your child than the other players.

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