September 1, 2009
Finally, a Parent/Coach that Got it Right!
Here's the question: Your child's coach means well, and the players generally enjoy practices and games. But midway through the season you sense the team is not meeting its potential in terms of effort and wins. You know enough about the sport to think you can help your child's coach improve the situation. How do you approach this with your child's coach? How, if at all, do you talk with your child about the team's performance? What do you expect will be the outcomes of those conversations?
Response by: Rudy Waluch
Here's my take, as a parent, educator of my own kids, and a coach. Youth sports are about kids, not parents. Youth sports should be fun for kids, and it can be fun for parents who are actively involved with their kid’s lives. If a child is not progressing in terms of skill level to the dismay of a parent trying to live vicariously through that child, then that parent ought to take some time to work with his own child away from the field.
Here's another frank reality that there's just no way of getting around: Most parents think their kids are actually better than they really are. When those kids or the team do not "win" the parents have to have a scapegoat–always the coach. It's never the parent who brings their child to the field 30 minutes late, or who feeds their kid nothing but junk food, and allows TV and video games to raise their kids. But it's usually these parents, who end up complaining–the ones who spend the least amount of time with their kids, who equip their kids with poor nutrition, poor attitudes about exercise, and poor values. I find that I often today have to coach the parents to be better parents.
Child obesity is at an all time high, schools no longer have mandatory PE each day, and kids invariably end up stuck in the protective cocoons indoors with little activity. Add to this the overmedication of our kids with anti-depressants and sedative-like drugs to make them less "hyperactive". What's happening to kids today is insane. Many "ADHD" kids are locked in schools and houses all day and night, fed high sugar diets, and then our teachers’ wonder why the kids cannot sit still. Add to this still the overly prescribed inhalers and antihistamines for allergies and you have kids getting allergies on top of allergies and respiratory ailments we never had when we were kids.
What's a coach to do? This is the challenge of the unpaid youth volunteer coach in today's world. It calls for the coach to be more than just an instructor of a game, a teacher of values and fair play, sportsmanship, teamwork and the courage to give ones' best effort at all times, for oneself and ones' team; It also calls for the coach to play referee to divorced parents, counselor to kids from broken homes, steadfast encourager of academics when parents could care less, and a life coach to parents in need. It calls for the coach to sell and get buy-in for, a new definition of winning when poor conditioning and skill level may not be there or when parental neglect looms: Winning becomes both a personal and team quest to do your best no matter what, have fun while you are doing it, and form friendships with teammates that will last a lifetime.
Check back next week for another great article about youth soccer coaching.