How the right parent involvement can make our job as coaches easier:
You don't have to be a professional athlete to understand the emotional, psychological and physical benefits of sports. If you have ever participated in an organized athletic competition, on essentially any level, you have experienced the impact of athletics.
The joy of winning, of hitting the game winning shot or even the sinking feeling of making a mistake or losing, are powerful emotions that present opportunities to grow. In fact, it is very likely you can recollect one or two of those moments from your own youth, right? For many of us those memories are almost as vivid and alive as the moment they happened. How many years ago was that? These are powerful learning opportunities and memories.
A Rare Passion & Dedication
As coaches and trainers the opportunity to tap into the mind and heart of a young athlete can be limited. You only have so much time with any one child and getting inside the mind of a young athlete isn't necessarily simple. It is crucial for coaches to be able to rely on parents who are closer to and better understand the heart and mind of their children.
Soccer is a part of me...
- Frannie Phillips, University of North Carolina, Wilmington recruit
This is a pretty serious statement from a high school athlete, and it reveals some very deep psychological and emotional ties to a game. Parents who have played, coaches and trainers and many fans of sports, understand this bond with the game and athletic competition.
That quote from Frannie Phillips was shared in an article in Bethesda Magazine, discussing this very topic with coaches, athletes and parents. Coaches emphasized that they understood and stress the opportunity to teach young people about much more than just the game.
A Deeper Level
The coaches in the Bethesda article also stressed that recognizing the difference between success and winning should be taught to these kids and that failure isn't always a bad thing. The hurt, uncertainty and sadness that can come with losing can often be the window for a parent to connect with their children on a deeper level.
As a coach, it can be beneficial for you and your athletes if you stress these opportunities to parents, guiding them to openly talk with their young athletes after a game. A bad game or a loss may be that chance to teach kids about the lessons that only failure provides:
- Perseverance - not quitting and continuing to strive to get better
- Attitude - staying positive
- Losing - how to lose gracefully
- Progression - understanding the loss and striving to build on weaknesses
Of course, winning also delivers a forum for a parent and child to share in excitement over the achievement. Some teachable moments when it comes to a win:
- Humility - winning the right way and staying humble in victory
- Goal setting - not resting on your laurels and continuing to push yourself
- Accomplishment - recognizing the fruits of hard work and effort
As you know, these are only a few of the lessons that can be taught through athletics. It is true that life itself offers parents so many teachable opportunities but few afford the raw, deep and connected moments that sports can. Being in the sports business gives you an opportunity to impact athletes and their parents, guiding these conversations, and strengthening that support system for a young athlete.
Good and Bad
Finally, encouraging parent engagement is great, but there will come times when someone needs to be reminded that there is a balance between too little and too much involvement. Crossing that line as a parent can mean stripping the joy of sports from young athletes. It can mean adding undue and unwarranted pressure, it can even make athletic competition a negative experience in the worst case scenarios.
When coaches and parents work together to forge a healthy and supportive relationship with a young athlete, a world of rare, special and teachable moments avail. In these moments we can share, bond, teach and even learn ourselves as coaches. That is the power of sports.
Here are some tips from Positive Coaching Alliance on how to build a positive Coach-Parent partnership!