The Most Important Dos and Don'ts for Parent Coaches

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One of the toughest jobs in the world is parenting. Coaching youth sports might be a very close second. Having your own kid on the team you are coaching brings this challenge to a whole new level. We know you are up for it. We also recognize that you might need a little bit of help and support along the way.

Challenging Yourself, Your Team, and Your Child

If you raise your children to feel that they can accomplish any goal or task they decide upon, you will have succeeded as a parent and you will have given your children the greatest of all blessings.

                                    - Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy is a Canadian-American motivational speaker and author. He is not a basketball player or coach, but his words are not only used as a guide for parents, but also a guide for basketball players and have been taken to pinterest:

“You must raise your aspirations, set higher goals, and make detailed plans to achieve them.”

The difference between these two quotes is that one is meant to help guide you and the other is words that you can share with your team, which includes your own child. When your child is on a youth sports team that you coach there are a number of things that are important to remember for the sake of her, your relationship, and all of the other players. Violating too many of these can make things awkward for everyone involved at best and at worst can lead to a season that lacks the rewards that can come with a great youth sports experience. The good news is there are thousands upon thousands of parents who manage to navigate this successfully every year, and we at Hustle Fitness know that you are going to be among their ranks.

The Biggest Do for Parent Coaches

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Remember that almost every youth sports coach is someone’s parent so you are not alone in navigating the challenges of being a parent coach. One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to find and talk with other parents who are also coaching. Use them as a ‘support group’ when you need to and a place to pull advice from and bounce ideas off of. It doesn’t have to be other basketball coaches, though they will understand the unique challenges of your game. There are plenty of soccer and little league coach parents who face the same quandaries.

The Biggest Don’t for Parent Coaches

There is no escaping the fact that coaches in youth sports play favorites. It is almost impossible not to. According to YouthSportsPsychology.com this is normal, and unintentional, behavior on the part of the adult, but it can be quite damaging to the kids who are on the outside of that favoritism. When coaches “‘start’ the same players every game… or…spend more time giving feedback to certain kids. They may give their favorites more playing time than other children. Often, coaches prefer players who show up on time, try their hardest and score during games. They sometimes favor players whose personalities mesh with their own: Communicating with these children feels easy” (Source). As a coach you should be mindful of avoiding favoritism, especially if the child you are giving special treatment to is your own.

Today’s Parent Magazine has a wonderful tip for all parents who are coaches: sooner or later parenting and coaching will collide.

Ouellette, who coached her daughter in skating, ran into a situation where her daughter didn’t recognize their new boundaries and would call out to her—like she would at home—while Ouellette was coaching. Ouellette reminded her that on the ice she was Coach, not Mom. “I told her that I’m there to help her and her friends have fun and practise cool skating skills to achieve our goal of the day,” she says. “And if she needed my attention in the middle of the drill, she could wait with her hand up until the drill was done.”

Jason Dickson, a former Anaheim Angel who coaches his daughters in softball and basketball, has an agreement with his kids: Once they’re home, the whistle is blown on game talk from Dickson (the girls are, of course, welcome to ask questions whenever they want). “I got into this habit of extending the coaching from the game to the car ride home to getting ready for bed, and that can wear a kid down,” says Dickson. He also had to explain the dad-coach difference. “At one of the first practices, I coached my daughter to hustle back to her position,” he says. “I could tell by her face something was up. Afterwards, she said I was using the ‘You’re in trouble’ voice. I told her it wasn’t intentional—I just had to speak up to be heard.”

These things will happen. When you step into being a coach it isn’t that you leave being a parent behind, it is just that you need to be a coach first and the same coach to every member of your team. That said, be forgiving of yourself, be fair to your children by not giving them any extra attention, and only challenge them the same way on the court that you would challenge any others.

For more tips and tricks on being a great youth basketball coach keep following Hustle Fitness.

Felipe Leon