How do you feel about your child having young coaches?
In 21 years of being a sports mom, I saw mostly older coaches who were parents, but every now and then my kids had a rookie that was in their 20s and on more than one occasion I felt bad for the way those youngsters were treated.
If your child has a young coach, please listen carefully: You have been given an opportunity as a parent. You can either be part of the reason that this young person continues coaching or be part of the problem that pushes him to give it up.
Here’s the best way for you to help young coaches:
- Offer as much help as you possibly can. Look at your schedule and see how much time you have to give and then give it to help the young coach out–without any strings attached.
- Be a sounding board, a listening ear. This may happen over time as the coach sees that you are truly there to help. Tell the coach you support him; he needs to know you are an advocate because there will be plenty of parents who aren’t. The best way for you to truly have influence in his or her life is to be a friend with no strings attached.
When my daughter was a sophomore in high school, she had a college-aged basketball coach who was getting plenty of grief from parents. My husband and I helped by driving the girls to tournaments and games, which gave us several opportunities to chat with her. We made sure she knew that we were on her side and were there if she wanted to talk. She was the same age as our oldest daughter and we kind of looked at her in that way, asking ourselves, “how would we want our daughter to be treated?”
- Be patient with the coach’s development. A new coach will most likely make plenty of mistakes. Before you accost the poor coach, remember that you were once new at something too. Encourage your kids to be helpful and patient with the new coach.
- Don’t tell the coach how to do his job. If the coach asks for your input, that is one thing, but if not, keep your mouth shut.
I was at a tournament recently and overheard a 20-something coach get an earful from a parent about how he should be coaching and what he absolutely must be doing in order to win. I wanted to go duck tape the dad’s mouth; if he only knew how pushy and demanding he sounded.
- Remember, that could be your son or daughter someday. Treat him or her the way you’d want your child to be treated as a coach. My 27-year-old daughter is coaching softball now and I am ready to jump anyone who wants to attack her. But I won’t of course, because then I would be interfering and trying to fight her battles, which is not what a good sports parent does!
- Respect the coach. Even if she is 22 or even if he has a tattoo. Hopefully, he or she knows something about the sport or they would not be coaching. Give them room to grow, experiment and respect them in that process. Teach your kids to show respect as well, regardless of whether they agree with every decision the coach makes.
Will You Push the Coach Out of the Sport, or Onward to Another Season?
That is the choice you have to make.