How to Coach Your Own Child


A dad's wisdom can come in handy on the field. See more sport pictures.
©iStockphoto.com/Jimak

As your kid begins playing sports, time -- both yours and your child's -- will be eaten up by this new activity. Frequently, there's a call for a parent to volunteer as team coach and spend the next several months attempting to herd cats. You're going to be sitting through games and practices anyway, so there won't be much of a difference time-wise, right? And if the coaching position is going to be filled by a random parent, why shouldn't it be you?

There's a little more thought that needs to go into answering those questions. Many youth coaches first get into coaching because their son or daughter plays on a team that needs a coach. However, parents who coach aren't always qualified to do so. If you've been asked to coach, make sure you understand how to play and coach the game, or commit yourself to learning. No player wants to play for a coach -- especially his or her own parent -- who doesn't know what's going on.

Regardless of the skill set of the parent/volunteer coach, there's an opportunity to share a great experience with your kid. There's also an opportunity to drive a wedge in your relationship with your child.

If you have issues with temper, patience or communicating with children who may or may not be listening to you, coaching is definitely not for you. Otherwise, coaching a team upon which your child plays can be a fun, rewarding experience for both parent and child.

Another thing to consider: Does your child even want you to coach? You can save your relationship a lot of trouble by directly asking your kid in a way that allows him or her to answer truthfully. Some parents get so excited and enthusiastic about becoming coaches that it surpasses the child's excitement and enthusiasm, or even directly decreases it. If your child is ambivalent or seems unsure about the situation, let someone else coach so you can be your child's biggest fan in the stands.

Before taking the plunge, account for your child's age -- younger kids play for the sheer joy of playing. They may be less interested in developing into a sports stand-out for their coach/parent than they are in just having a good time, burning off energy and making new friends.

So, how do you coach your own child, use the experience to bond, and maintain harmony both on the team and in the home? Keep reading to find out.

Coaching Your Child Fairly

On the field, you're the coach, not the parent.
On the field, you're the coach, not the parent.
©iStockphoto.com/JLBarranco

Before you decide to begin coaching your own kid, you should make sure you're doing it for the right reasons:

  • facilitating the running of the team
  • spending quality time with your child
  • helping your child and others learn how to play the sport, work together in a team environment and have fun in a supportive atmosphere

Should you attempt to coach your child all the way to a pro-sports career, you run a serious risk of showing favoritism to your kid when it comes to assigning positions, picking the starting lineup and deciding who goes in the game at crucial moments. Other parents will be sensitive to any perceived favoritism on your part. It's a fine line, because you don't want to overcompensate for perceived favoritism by being extra-hard on your own kid, either.

How do you balance being a parent and being a coach? Make sure both you and your child share this understanding: At home and off the field, you're a parent, not a coach. On the field, you're the coach, not the parent.

If you continue coaching your child's teams for a few seasons, consider taking a season or two off. This will allow your child to learn how to play under different coaching styles and remove the stigma of being the "coach's kid." When other kids are griping about something you're doing as coach (and they will), they'll clam up quickly when your kid wanders over.

At the same time, it's important as a coach to teach the fundamentals of the game. As a parent/coach, keep your eye on increasing the skill level of all players on the team.

You're more likely to have a successful experience coaching your own kid if you determine that you can coach your child without showing favoritism, coach all players equally without being too hard on your own kid, and gain the respect of your child as any other coach could.

One important (and oft overlooked) aspect of successfully coaching your own kid is to enjoy yourself. If you're having fun, the odds are good that your kid -- and the other players -- will, too. If you want to make sure that coaching your own kid is a positive experience, don't forget -- it really is just a game.

For lots more information on coaching your own kid, see the next page.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

Sources

  • Brogerg, Brad. "Coaching your own kid." Parent Map. July 1, 2006. (Feb. 3, 2010) http://www.parentmap.com/content/view/140/461/
  • Cary, Peter. "Coach Your Kid's Sports Team." U.S. News & World Report. Dec. 17, 2006. http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/articles/061217/25coach.community.htm
  • Dugout Newsletter. "Coaching Children -- My Experience Coaching My Own Child." Jan. 2003. (Feb. 3, 2010)http://www.qcbaseball.com/philosophy/coaching_own_child1.aspx
  • Hutsler, Jack. "The Accidental Coach." Forum for Youth Investment. Aug. 3, 2001. (Feb. 3, 2010) http://www.connectforkids.org/node/297
  • Lauer, Larry, PhD. "Should I Coach my Child?" Association for Applied Sport Psychology. (Feb. 3, 2010)http://appliedsportpsych.org/Resource-Center/Parents/articles/coaching-child
  • Rathbun, Mickey. "Coaching your own child." Youth Football USA. (Feb. 3, 2010)http://www.yfusa.org/PDF/Coaching_Your_Own_Child.pdf
  • Stratton, Richard, Ph.D. "Coaching Your Own Child." (Feb. 3, 2010)http://baseballtips.com/coaching.html
  • Woitalla, Mike. " The Delight Of Coaching Your Own Child." American Youth Soccer Organization. (Feb. 3, 2010)http://www.ayso.org/coaches_referees/coaches/delight_of_coaching.aspx