Youth sports thrive on parent-coaches; without them sport just would not happen. But coaching your child’s team does come with challenges as every parent has a unique relationship with their own children and when it comes to coaching it is not easy to separate being the parent from being the coach.

However, if you can remember that the predominant motivation for all children playing sport is having fun, then you are already on your way to being a great coach. Other suggestions to help you follow:

Separate the Parent From the Coach

One of the biggest challenges a parent-coach face is the inability to separate those two roles from one another.

This can create confusion for the child. To master these roles, and live them independently, start by using the environment as a cue for your behaviour. You are a coach when on the field, and a parent everywhere else, so leave discussions of things that happened in practices and games behind when your journey home starts and try to talk about subjects other than the sport, such as school, friends and hobbies.

Treat Your Child Fairly

When coaching, it's important to be objective. Be fair and realistic about your child's abilities, and avoid showing favouritism or being overly tough on your child. This avoids putting extra pressure on your child which can backfire in the form of angry outbursts and hidden emotional turmoil.

Talk Openly With Your Child

Consider talking to your son or daughter about your interest in coaching the team. How does he or she feel about it? You may find that an open, honest conversation will make the coaching experience more rewarding for both of you.

Use Codes of Conduct

Most clubs have established Player and Coach Codes of Conduct – familiarise yourself with them and use them to remind yourself of reasonable expectations of all team members. It is also good practice to get the team and all parents together before the season starts and discuss your expectations of behaviour at training and matches, and discuss sensible consequences for not meeting them.

Create a Good Sports Environment

Focus on the needs of the child, ensuring that throughout THEIR experience you are supporting them by inspiring them to focus on improvement. Mistakes are necessary for their growth, and we need to recognise their effort not the outcome.

Allow them to connect, including everyone unconditionally and encouraging friendships and caring. Empower them by encouraging and recognising their ideas, giving opportunities to be involved with decision making. 

Modify their games to help them learn though discovery in play. Support them to balance a variety of sports, school and time with their friends.

Being a parent AND a great coach

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