Having a parent coach their own child carries advantages and disadvantages.
The personalities of the child and the coach carry a lot of weight on how advantageous this can be. For some parents, they simply cannot separate the coach from the child. For some kids, it causes far too much pressure for them.
Photo credits: Jim Larrison's Flickr
For the child, having one of their parents coach their team enables them to spend good quality time with that parent.
If the child is weak in one position or at a specific play, the parent coach knows immediately and can better provide assistance and support for the child's improvement.
It makes it less chaotic for the entire family because instead of watching two games, the one the parent is coaching and the one the child is playing in, they're only attending one game, and the family's loyalty and time isn't split between two different teams.
The parent who is coaching has a unique opportunity to play a key role in their child's sports development and thus attain a feeling of double accomplishment. They feel pride for being able to lead a team and pride for having the opportunity to coach their own child.
As the coach's kid, a sense of pressure to perform at top level or the pressure to win no matter what could weigh heavily upon the child.
When parents or team members get upset with the parent coach, they may very well take it out on the child.
Sometimes, a mom or dad will be harder on their own child than on the other team members. Or, the exact opposite may happen and the coach either consciously, or unconsciously favors their child. This can be extremely difficult for the child because it may make other team members resent them or teach the child bad lessons about the real world.
Because of the added stress of coaching the same team a child is on, it could result in added tension at home.
How to Make it Work
Make the decision to coach a mutual one. Before volunteering, the parent should talk to the child and ask their opinion. This is an opportunity to make clear the expectations and needs of both parties. By clearly communicating these, the process can be a positive experience for the coach, the child, the team members, and their parents as well.
Although it’s difficult to separate the duties of a parent, and the duties of a coach while being a parent coach, it’s necessary to play the part as coach during practices and games. By playing the role of coach, and coach only, the parent will do a much better job. This impacts not only the child, but the entire team. Team performance is directly linked to team equality. Maintaining the role of coach provides a much healthier environment for everyone.
Bear in mind however, that just because the parent coach is trying to not show extra attention (whether positive or negative) to their own child, that child still needs a parent figure to encourage them. If possible, always have another parent or family member present at games to play that role for the child. This way, if the child is having an emotional breakdown or gets injured, the coach doesn't neglect the needs of the team to take care of one child. If family members aren't able to be present, sometimes other team parents are more than happy to step in. This also establishes respect and trust for the coach.
The decision to become a parent coach is an important one because it can impact every single person associated with the team. By defining each role clearly and assimilating the child into the team as a player, the coach's kid is the secret to making it work. Being a parent-coach isn't easy, but it is possible to be one and provide a memorable experience for all involved.
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