Should you give advice to your child about his sport when you’ve never played?
A sports parent asks:
I have a friend who lectures his child on baseball
techniques and strategies when he has never played an inning in his life. What do you think of parents who tell their child the sport’s techniques and strategies when they never played the sport, or maybe played it at a low level? Should we just keep our mouths shut?
There a verse in the Bible and a song from the 60s that says there is a season for everything under the sun, two of them being: a time to keep silent, and a time to speak.
This is especially true for parents.
Don’t blow smoke
The time to be silent is when you really don’t know what you are talking about. And that takes a bit of brutal honest soul-searching. And some humility sprinkled in. It’s okay to say, You know, son, I’m not sure what you should do in that situation, but why don’t you ask coach? Or Why don’t you talk to the high school varsity player down the street? Or little Jimmy’s dad who has coached?
It’s okay that a parent doesn’t know everything. It’s often pride that keeps us from admitting that and in the process we rob our kids of what’s best for them.
Do your homework
However, that’s not to say that you can’t learn. When my husband first began coaching middle school softball 13 years ago, he knew very little about the sport and had only played baseball (anyone who’s played or coached softball knows there are glaring differences).
So he set out to learn and over the next decade, soaked up everything he could about softball. He recorded high school and college games on TV, went to softball clinics, watched videos, and observed other teams play, and read anything he could that would help him become a better coach. The result: he ended his softball coaching career with two high school section championships, and one runner-up.
Even if you aren’t the coach, you can still learn enough about the sport to at least understand the basics. But it takes a lot of listening and watching...a time for silence.
Parent first, coach second
When you’ve done your homework, when you’ve listened and observed, when you are confident that your information is correct and will be helpful for your child, your child may listen to your suggestions: From what I’ve observed about hitting in softball… or From what I understand about basketball…(this is your time to speak).
But remember, your job is to be a supportive, positive parent first, helping your child learn what’s really important–character growth–and a coach second. It’s okay to delegate the coaching job to someone else and just be a parent.
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