Following is one of the 10 case studies in The Power of Double Goal Coaching, the latest book by PCA Founder and Executive Director Jim Thompson.
You have the chance to coach your own child. As a Double-Goal Coach, how can you make it a great experience for everyone involved with the team?
Historically, young people have apprenticed with their parents' business. My father talked with great joy about going to work in the fields of the family farm with my grandfather at the age of 12. Today there is little opportunity for this, but coaching your own child can be a wonderful experience in working together.
Many parents and children look back on their times together on a sports team as some of the best moments of their lives. Here are some tips for making that shared experience a positive one.
• Ask your child. "How would you feel about me coaching your team this season?" If he has reservations, it's good to know that up front. If they are strong ones, you may want to choose to be a supportive sports parent, not "coach," this season.
• Recognize that you wear two hats. Tell your child you need to treat her like everyone else on the team when you wear your coach's hat. It helps when your child calls you "coach" during practices and games, not mom or dad. But when you put your parent hat on, she is the most important person in your life (along with other family members).
• Some parent-coaches even wear a special coaching cap. After a game or practice, they make a point of changing hats: "I'm taking my coach hat off and putting my dad hat on."
• Be sensitive to favoring or penalizing your child. Many coaches give their child advantages (like starting games or playing favored positions) the child hasn't "earned" by effort or talent. Few things poison the well with other parents and players like a coach unfairly favoring his own child. However, many coaches are harder on their own child. It's difficult to be objective about our own child, so you may find it useful to ask another person (perhaps an assistant coach) to let you know if you are treating your own child fairly compared to other players on your team.
• If you have an assistant coach, you might find it useful to regularly have him or her give instruction and feedback to your child while you return the favor.
• Don't talk about other players on the team with your child. This places him in a complicated situation and may color his relationships with other players. He is a member of the team, not your co-coach.
• Avoid sports overload with your child by doing non-sport family activities during the season. If doing sports at home, focus on having fun rather than on drills designed to make your child better. This way she will be fresh for practice rather than feeling she gets no respite from sports.
Your time coaching your child will pass by very quickly. Whatever happens, I encourage you to stay in the moment and enjoy this special time.