Let the Coach, Coach!
Given the recent Maryland Rec Department's zero-tolerance policy for fans, the issue of parents coaching from the sideline is at the forefront yet again. We've all been to a youth sports game, match or event at one time in our lives. The people attending these events are usually emotionally invested in the participants and the outcome - parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, etc. - everyone wants to see their athlete and their athlete's team succeed. Unfortunately when people are emotionally invested in anything, & things don't go as planned they react in an emotional manner. In addition to the emotional strain these outbursts put on young athletes, coaches receive the brunt of these emotional reactions at youth sporting events.
It is crucial for parents and loved ones attending youth athletic events to remember a very simple and critical aspect of youth sports - you are the parent (or fan) and the coach is the coach. Will the coach make mistakes along the way - errors in allocating playing time, calling the wrong play, playing the wrong player, etc. - of course! Coaches on the highest levels make these mistakes. But we all need to keep in mind that they are the coach. Perhaps the person criticizing from the sideline could have volunteered to coach, but they didn't...and that's okay! But the current coach did volunteer his or her time in an effort to help young athletes. So despite your thoughts on their performance, publicly criticizing that performance during the game, is not the time or place. It is also a bad idea to talk negatively or undermine your athlete's coach in front of your child. What kind of example are you setting for your athlete by this behavior? You are promoting disrespect, negativity and lack of respect for authority and undermining the positive characteristics children can gain from being involved in athletics.
Doc Rivers explains it eloquently. Take 2 minutes and listen to NBA Legend Doc Rivers' take on this subject here. Trust us, if Doc stays out of his children's coaches way and lets them "coach, especially when his kids were playing basketball, we all have no excuses! Imagine that, an ex-NBA star and NBA Championship winning coach allows his kids' youth basketball coaches to coach in peace. Why? It's simple, in that situation he is the parent and the coach is the coach.
It should be worth mentioning that there are exceptions. You may find yourself in a situation where you feel your athlete’s coach is doing damage (mentally or physically) and it is your job as a parent to step in. In that situation, there are ways to confront your child’s coach in a non-threatening, productive and mature manner. Set up a time to speak, preferably in person, away from the team – don’t talk during or after practice or a game. Lay out your concerns and frustrations, but keep it about the children and keep it productive. If your issue isn’t solved, report the incident to the league or organization’s leaders as soon as possible.