Show Your Support: Coach Is a Tough Job
As a sports parent, “support coach” should be one of your top priorities.
By Catherine Holecko
When your child is involved in youth sports, his relationship with his coach becomes important—and so does yours. There are many ways you can support Coach, and doing so benefits your athlete, physically and psychologically. “The research is clear: If parents support teachers, that helps kids learn,” says Jim Thompson, executive director of the Positive Coaching Alliance, which trains coaches to teach life lessons. Criticism of educators undercuts kids’ motivation to learn, and the same is true in sports. So support your child, and his teammates, by supporting his coach too. Here’s how.
Get off to a good start with a friendly introduction of yourself, your athlete, and your family. Then, throughout the season, be sure to compliment the coach when he does something you appreciate. Thompson calls this “filling the emotional tank.” Unfortunately, “most coaches only hear from parents when they’re complaining,” he says.
Offer to help.
The coach has made a huge time commitment, usually for little to no financial reward. Ask her what you could do, during practices, games, or at other times, to help lighten her load.
… But don’t interfere.
Let the coach do her job. When it comes to your child’s sports experience, the coach is the teacher and you are the cheerleader. Of course, as a parent, you may have some helpful insights to share about your child’s learning style or weaknesses. Just don’t share them in the middle of a game! Have a conversation at some other time that’s convenient for both you and the coach.
Honor the game.
According to the Positive Coaching Alliance, this means showing respect for the rules of the game, your team’s opponents, the officials, your (child’s) teammates, and yourself/your child (remember the acronym ROOTS, for Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates, and Self).
Follow the rules.
Make sure your child arrives at practices and games on time, with all necessary equipment in working order, and complies with other policies the coach establishes. If you’re asked to bring a team snack, observe any nutritional guidelines set by the coach or league. This shows your child that you respect the coach’s authority, and it gives the coach more time to teach sportsmanship and game skills.
Handle disagreements gracefully.
Don’t put your child in the middle by complaining about the coach in front of her (or her teammates). If you question a rule or decision, take it up with the coach during a private meeting or phone call.
Help your child have fun.
Never pressure him to perform beyond his capacity. Deal with disappointments sensitively. Remember that emotional tank? Your athlete has one too. Fill it up with praise!