Imagine the sign… “Coaching from the sidelines. Not allowed.”

Imagine the sign… “Coaching from the sidelines. Not allowed.”

I borrowed this image from this website because I think it fits perfectly with what we are discussing today. Whether your child is a toddler or teen, these are a few things to remember when moving through the sports’ season.

I recently wrote a post about allowing teachers to have authority with our kid’s path and simply be led by them. When our kids play sports, the same holds true for the coach. Simply allow yourself to be led by them (and encourage your child to be led by them!). And here’s why.

Youth coaches do NOT make enough money

Adults who sign up to be coaches typically do not get paid enough for the value they hold with our youth. In many instances in fact, the coaches are volunteers. Although I know that, I often do not remember that they are giving up so much of their time for my kids. I can imagine some days those volunteer coaches go home thinking…”why did I sign up for this?” I also know that I have heard coaches say the worst part of coaching isn’t the kids – it’s the parents.  I know we can change that by using our words for good – on the field, off the field, and in discussions with those around us.

Having “ coaches” on both sides of the playing field is confusing

There is no denying that our kids want to please us. They want us to be proud of them. So when we are shouting things at them from the other side of the field that they should or should not be doing, it puts them in the middle. Literally and figuratively. They want to please us, but they also know they need to listen to their coach. So if we are not going to commit to being the coach on the other side of the field, keep the comments on the sideline to strictly be encouraging. If you want to talk with your kid about their performance after the game, that might be the right time to do that. But in the heat of the moment when they are already under pressure In the game to perform well, that may not be the time to send messages to them. Encourage them to listen to their coach and just cheer them on!

Being a true teammate

Just a couple of days ago, I shared that one of the benefits of youth sports is being a part of a team. Within that same idea, being a good teammate means following what the coach says (not what your parent says!). I remember being on a team growing up and having good friends whose parents were really energized by our games. But I also remember talking with my teammates about how hard it was for them to try to figure out who they should really be listening to.

Being a teammate means going along with the team mentality. This may not be the same as what you hoped the mentality might be, but to support that coach it is imperative that we go along and support it. Again, if you have bigger concerns about the coach, it may be appropriate for you to schedule a meeting with him/her. But bad-mouthing the coach will only undermine the hard work that coach has put in and upset your child. 

If you are struggling to get along with a particular coach, I might encourage you to consider if the roles were switched. If you had put in hours and hours of time for the team and had a parent share concerns like you’re sharing. We may never know how much work goes on behind the scenes for coaches and what they put into the activity. Perhaps giving the benefit of the doubt in the situation is a good idea.

Key reminders

  • Be overly grateful for our youth-sports coaches. They really are giving your child an invaluable experience. Even if they are the worst coach on the planet, they are the reason your child is able to participate in that event. See if you can search for anything positive to focus on.
  • Be led and simply enjoy watching your kid play (or sit the bench with his/her friends!). I’m going to address playing time in the upcoming weeks, so standby for that. In the meantime, the whole point of youth sports is for us as parents to simply enjoy watching our kids doing things that they otherwise wouldn’t normally be doing. Sometimes you could just let it be that.
  • Teach and praise being a good teammate. I’m not sure I can over emphasize the value of being a good teammate. I still have conversations with college students about the value of learning how to work together in a group. It is simply an invaluable skill. When you notice your child is doing something that makes him or her a good teammate, praise them and tell them how much that means to you. Take a minute to point out that you noticed how much they were cheering for their friends. Make a special comment about how he passed the ball to the one kid who doesn’t get it very often. All of those things matter way more than winning.