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10 Things about being a Parent Coach

After going through hockey tryouts for two kids, sitting on the sidelines for baseball and poms and gymnastics and soccer and swim team, I am sharing the collective wisdom of a bunch of coaches. Some of these have been said by more than one coach, some are specific to team sports, some are relevant to individual activities. All are great reminders, whether you already coach or are thinking about coaching, that as a parent coach you have power and the responsibility to be the best version of yourself for the sake of the youth you coach.

  1. You cannot be both at the same time
  2. Your kid is not the star attraction no matter how good she is. Every parent believes in their kid more than you believe in their kid
  3. You have to learn to teach – a youth coach is a teacher no matter the sport of activity
  4. Kids learn differently – what and how you teach to your kid may or may not work for others
  5. Some parents view you as a babysitter – even for older kids
  6. Every coach wants to win. Getting there means teaching the steps
  7. Most of coaching is manipulating emotions to elicit a particular response
  8. If you embarass a player, you better be ready to deal with the parent and be able to rebuild that kid’s confidence
  9. None of your players are pros and they should only be expected to know what you knew at that same age. At no time should they be expected to know everything you know now
  10. Great parent coaches develop the ability to step outside of themselves and view what they are doing as if they were an observer. They make decisions and changes accordingly
  11. Once you make a decision or have a strong thought, the resulting chemical reaction in the body takes 90 seconds. Manage that and you can manage every situation more effectively
  12. You only have three options in every situtation: Good, Bad, Best. Choose best for the player and you will do right for the entire team
  13. Kids are not mini-adults
  14. There is no fair. Strive for consistency
  15. Every word you say will be scrutinized by parents and misunderstood by at least half of them
  16. Every time you make a statement you are creating an expectation. Choose your words wisely. Live you up to the expectations you set
  17. Post game talks to kids that go more than 60 seconds are useless
  18. Kids are over outcomes and situations exponentially faster than you are
  19. If a parent wants to talk to you – listen to them. Acknowledge their issue, don’t agree or disagree. Tell them you accept what they say, that you will think about it and talk to the other coaches (if you have any), and that you appreciate that the parent is willing to offer their opinion. Do not argue with them – the only result is you looking combatitive and that parent will talk to everyone no matter the outcome – do you want them to tell them that you listed or that you argued with them?
  20. Nobody gives a shit that you are a volunteer. You are the coach and you have a responsibility to use that position and power as if it was your only responsibility. You would expect that from anyone that was coaching your child if you were not the coach
  21. You will have favorites. Everyone will know who they are.
  22. If you want help, ask. Most parents want to help but don’t want to step on toes
  23. Kids remember everything about your best and worst moments as a coach – forever. And they will share with everyone – forever
  24. You cannot over communicate with parents. Be consistent and be kind and communicate with them often. Parents will fill in the blanks in the worst possible way when you don’t
  25. If you are coaching to get your kid a spot on a particular team, you are an asshole and should not be coaching
  26. You don’t win because you want to and that is your goal. Your team will win when you teach the fundamentals over and over and over at an age appropriate level. Wooden started each season teaching his players how to tie their shoes. You should do the same for your activity.
  27. All the privates and technology and equipment in the world won’t make the team better if the player does not have the desire.
  28. A good manager will exhaust you. A bad manager will break you. A great manager will save you
  29. Kids forget equipment – roll with it. Unless it happens every time. In that case tell the kid and parent to get it together.
  30. Stay current – find the new. Instagram drills and techniques. Facebook and LinkedIN stalk successful coaches.
  31. Practices are for 80% skills 10% strategies, 10% games
  32. Every so often use a practice to just let the kids play – let them make up their own games and rules
  33. The less complicated the drill, the more the player gets out of it. The more the skill is isolated and developed.
  34. Coaching a game is all about manipulating emotions of the players, controlling your emotions, and taking advantage of significant teachable moments (you cannot teach at every moment)
  35. Be grateful that players and parents let you be an authority over their kids. Volunteer, paid, doesn’t matter. You are grateful to them and it is never the reverse