Parents are often criticised for their overbearing approach by coaches, and so I wanted coaches to be aware of why they behave in this way. I am not saying parents are always justified in their actions but this explains why, on occasions they may get it wrong.
This open letter from Blair Becker (Corehockeytraining.com) letting coaches know what it is like to be a parent sums it up brilliantly.
Let me start by saying that I am thankful you are giving your time to coach my child’s team. Parents often don’t act very grateful, and so I want to assure you that even when we get testy, we are still glad that you are out there doing the job. Maybe someday I will be doing the coaching, but until then, I’m glad I can just watch!
If you are a parent, then you will understand everything that I am about to say to you. But because you are a coach, I know that it is tough to wear the parent and coach hat at the same time. If you are not a parent, these are things you need to understand as we start the season:
I’m not out to get you; I just love my child. If it seems at times that I have a personal vendetta against you, please know that this is not true. I just love my child so much that I get very mama or papa bear-ish and sometimes that protectiveness bares its claws when I feel my kid is not getting a fair shake.
I want to see my child experience success. It would be great if my kid could be the star of the team, but I know it’s more important for him to work hard and reap rewards for that hard work. If I get a bit bent out of shape about his playing time it’s because I want him to feel like his hard work has been worth it. But I also know that success doesn’t always show itself in minutes played; it comes in many intangible forms and I’m okay with that. I just want you to acknowledge his hard work and help him experience some success.
I want my child to enjoy the game. I’m not asking that you take it easy on my kid, I just want him to have fun even as he is working hard. I would love it if you would help fan the passion my child has for his sport. From what I’ve observed, a coach does this by being positive even as he corrects and teaches, by truly caring for his players, and by wanting each child to become a better athlete and person throughout the season. If you do that, I’m pretty sure my kid will be excited to go on to another season.
I want my child to be safe. As you get caught up in coaching and the myriad of details that must be attended to, please don’t ever forget that my child’s safety–and the safety of every child on the team–is the most important thing. I’m not saying you would knowingly put my kid in the game when he is injured, I’m just asking that you take time to get properly trained and be sure you have medical personnel around who can step in when needed.
I think my child is The Best. And so does every parent who has a child on the team. Unfortunately, some of us let the my-child-is-the-best mentality translate to my child deserves to play all the time, or my child should be playing quarterback (or pitching or playing libero or goalie). Please accept my apology right now for blurring those lines, and try to be patient when it happens.
Someone once said that having a child is like watching your heart walk around outside your body. In that case, there’s a lot of parents whose hearts are out there playing on your field or court. That does not justify our bad behavior, but I hope it helps you understand just why we are so passionate about our kids’ sports.
Mr. & Mrs. Sports Parent