Coaching your child's team or coaching your child in an individual sport can be an extremely difficult task, albeit an incredibly rewarding one. It's not a position that should be taken lightly, and there are a few things to remember before you start.
Here's what a group of TrueSport experts and coaches want you to avoid.
Don't coach unless you actually want that responsibility
Too many parents casually sign up to coach without realizing what they're getting into. Before you offer to coach your child's team, get clear on why you want to do it—and have a conversation with your child about if that's something they even want.
"To set yourself up for success, start by reflecting on why you are coaching this team in the first place," says TrueSport Expert and President of Now What Facilitation, Nadia Kyba, MS. A social worker and expert in conflict resolution, Kyba encourages parents to consider their motives: "Is it because volunteerism is one of your core values? Are you hoping to give your child their best shot at an athletic scholarship? Is it to become closer with your child by spending more time together? There are no right or wrong answers, but the key is to be aware of the reasons and to ensure they make sense in relation to your relationship with your child. Be careful not to get caught up in the ‘win at all cost’ mentality that can put a strain on your relationship."
Don't bring your bias to practice
"Be aware of your bias around your child when you are making decisions, such as starting line-ups, practice times, and captaincy decisions," says Kyba. "If you haven’t checked your bias, parents, athletes, and your own child will be sure to pick on decision-making that is not sound." Bias can take shape in two ways: You may find you're tempted to favor your child and put them in the limelight, or you may notice that you actually shy away from putting your child in the starting lineup despite their skill. If you're not sure about where your bias lies, consult with an assistant coach, and above all, be open to feedback.
"To be a critical thinker, it can help to ask questions, gather information, and reflect on the decisions and judgments you have made," Kyba adds. This means throughout the entire season, regularly reflect on the progress of all the athletes on the team, including your child. And make sure that your child isn't changing your impression of their teammates. "Are you viewing a player on the team through the lens of a story your daughter told at dinner last night, or putting together lineups that support friendship groups because that’s what your son wants?" Kyba asks. Those seemingly minor biases can impact your ability to coach a team well.