Are you cut out for coaching?
Posted by Dean Holden at May 1st, 2013
by Matt Weingarden, 30 April 2013
Coaching a youth sports team can be difficult. When your own kids are playing on the squad, it can be even more challenging. It can be a great bonding experience between parents and their children, but it can also be fraught with pressure, worries and emotions running high -yours, your team’s and even those of other parents.
Before you get involved in coaching at the youth sports or community level, you should consider the impact coaching will have on your relationship with your child.
How do you know whether or not you’ll be a good parent coach? Are you cut out for the challenge?
Dr. Todd Loughead, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Windsor, says coaching requires more than just a knowledge of the fundamentals and rules of the game:
“We need parent coaches who are going to be strong leaders and role models. The goal is to make sure that their child and those they are coaching are going to continue to participate in sport for life,” said Loughead, who specializes in the area of sport psychology.
Many youth sport coaches report that working with the young athletes is often not nearly as challenging as handling a difficult parent.
Can the situation with a difficult parent be controlled? Prevented?
Loughead says communication is the key. What he does is contact the parents immediately and highlight the philosophy that he plans to adopt and what he plans on focusing on for the season. He saysthat he has had very little confrontation with parents when he uses that particular model.
“When you take time to really explain to parents what your goals are for their children, there seems to be a mutual respect and understanding that happens,” said Loughead.
Peter Cusumano has been the Sr. Boys basketball coach at Catholic Central High School in Windsor since 1988, and has coached his son Jacob over the years on the court and diamond.
“Your kid will always think that you are being harder on him,” said Cusumano. “And at the same time your kid is always worried about the perception that he is being favoured. It’s a lot of pressure.”
He says that he and his son spent so much time together there was real bond created between them. There were also moments where they fought and disagreed. Cusumano says one of the issues that he and his son have run into is leaving the game at the gym.
“Often it’s easy to bring the game home…you have to know when to turn it off,” said Cusumano.”We’re not going to talk about it at the dinner table. Wait till we get on the court tomorrow.”
Loughead says that at around the age of 12, there is a noticeable drop-off in sport participation amongst children. There are several contributing factors to this trend, but he believes a key factor is improper instruction and training by coaches who, through no fault of their own, lack proper knowledge.
Today, says Loughead, the goal is the long-term athlete development model and certification through workshops.
“Parent volunteers are required… it’s the way things are set up in Canada. We need them,” said Loughead. “But at the same time parent coaches need to be educated and they need to take advantage of the numerous workshops offered.”
National standardized workshops and certification programs are available to parent coaches. There they learn what the benchmarks are for each level of development.
Levels of standardized development include Active Start for ages 4-6, and FUNdamentals for ages 6-9. These levels emphasize fun, safety and basic motor skills like speed and agility.
“What is important for parent coaches to understand is that it’s not until you reach the ‘learn to train’ stage, at ages eight to twelve, that you emphasize the technical and tactical development of that particular sport,” said Loughead.
According to Loughead, the community sport coach needs to always display appropriate behavior, such as respecting the decision of a referee, and teach proper training technique to the young athletes. Positive reinforcement and encouragement are very important tools. He says that there should be more emphasis on practicing versus playing and competing. He believes that kids should be allowed to try all of the positions associated with that sport.”