September 22, 2009
Coaching Your Own Child: Tips by Layne Van Noy
First, I recommend you honestly examine your motives for coaching. Are you providing a needed social service or are you trying to live vicariously through your child? Do you want to enhance their athletic experience or are you trying to ensure their playing time? If you answer yes to either of the latter, pull yourself out of the game.
Next, are you qualified? When coaching an entry level team your basic skills and knowledge of the game are probably adequate. If you are coaching more advanced players there are a number of coaching guides available online or instructional videos to get yourself up to speed. The overlying trait you should have is to be able to relate to children and enjoy being with them.
You will need to get your child's support and understanding that they will have to share your attention with their teammates; there will be no special treatment or favoritism and they may be criticized, just like the other players. Once they step on the field, they are a member of a team and everybody is equal. Always treat your child the same way you treat the other children on the team. Conversely, don't go the other way and short shrift your child in an effort to appear unbiased.
Don't bring the game home. Don't let their sport be the center of attention at the dinner table, as it may bring resentment from other siblings. Plus, if they are constantly being coached at home they may not like sports anymore. Remember to wear the parent hat when you are at home. Try not to compare your experience as an athlete to that of your child.
Talk to your parents and players. This should be your first official act as a coach. Gather the players and parents and explain your expectations and philosophy regarding playing time and positions. Encourage the parents to come to you with any questions or concerns they may have. Since playing time is such a critical issue with parents, keep a score card that records each child's playing time and position. If you are too busy, enlist the help of a parent or assistant. This will go a long way as an objective tool that parents can refer to any time during the season.
Lastly, know when to bow out. There comes a time when someone else should coach your child. I can recall when I encouraged my son to practice his left-hand layups, he reacted negatively and resisted. But when his high school coach asked him to do the same, he took it seriously. There is no clear-cut answer as to when the best time is to stop coaching your child. Regardless, it's hard enough to do a good job as a parent. Trying to be a good coach, too, puts to much stress on a relationship.
Hopefully, with a little luck, 10 or more years down the road your child will say it was a great experience and a lot of fun!
Check back next week for another great article to help you with your youth soccer coaching.