Thousands of training sessions and matches take place globally every week and many parents are there to observe them. Parents, I want you to take a step back for a moment and reflect on all that you have observed Have you ever thought about what you are looking for in an effective coach for your child?
If you are new to sport and signing your children up to sport for the first time then I hope some of the tips below will help you on your sporting journey.
Without having some understanding of the behaviours and traits that you should be looking for in an effective coach, you may well without realising it, be throwing your child into a sporting experience that is far from beneficial to them.
Many coaches at grassroots level are volunteers and many have just completed basic Level I entry courses into coaching and will be learning their trade. You must be understanding of this and not expect them all to be super heroes, as many great coaches do not coach in the way they did when they first started and many of these coaches will be giving up huge amounts of time unpaid to provide the service for you and your child.
However, there are a number of qualities that need to be brought to the table by your child’s coach if your child is going to have a fun, positive experience.
1. Do they care – not just about the result at the weekend, but do you feel that your child is emotionally and physically safe with them?
Do they speak to your child before and after the sessions, do they acknowledge them and get to know something about them away from the sporting environment? Crucially, do they create an environment that allows your child to foster positive and healthy relationships with the other children and other adults connected with the group. This is vital as one of the main reasons children stay in sport is to have fun with their friends.
2. Are they reliable – do they show up for sessions and matches on a regular basis?
There is no doubting that young children in particular benefit from continuity and familiarity in what they are involved in to get the most out of it. Are your child’s coaches on time or do they often appear when it best suits them?
3. Do they engage with you and other parents? – you are a key part of the sporting experience, never forget that.
Children get the most out of their sporting experience when coach, parent and child are all aligned and working positively together in the best interests of the child. It is important that you feel part of the process as you can also help support the coach and the work that they do by reinforcing some of their messages at home. If the coaches do not engage with you and you are unsure of what is expected of your child, then there is a chance that you could deliver conflicting messages and this will only lead to confusion and frustration for your child.
4. Are they approachable and willing to answer questions? – This is vitally important if you wish to place complete trust and faith in your child’s coach.
You should feel comfortable in asking and they should be able to answer questions such as how long have you coached for? What level of qualification do you have? How much experience do you have with this age group? What are your plans for the group you are working with?
5. Do they set a good example – are they punctual, dress smartly and appropriately and use suitable language?
Coaches are role models whether they like it or not and many are often key people in your child’s life. They need to be setting a good example, children will follow suit and behave according to the environment that is set and that they are involved in. If your child’s coach sets high standards then there is a good chance that your child may take an interest in following suit.
Does their language encourage your child? Does your child feel that they have the freedom to express themselves and be creative and make mistakes without ramification?
6. Do they inspire?
Children need to be inspired, does your coach give your child that thrill? Are they passionate about what they do and able to channel that passion to have a positive impact on your child’s development?
In looking for this as a parent you should also be checking that your child’s coach does not embarrass or humiliate. There is no place for this, it is certainly not building character and the alarm bells should go off if you witness this.
7. Do they coach the person not the sport?
Most parents when questioned would often have knowledge and experience as high up on their agendas when looking at coaches for their children. However, there is more to sport than merely the sporting outcomes. Does your child’s coach help with life skills through the sport? Do they help foster good communication, good etiquette, self organisation, decision making to name just a few……..
Once you have reflected and are armed with this information then we hope that you are able to make really informed choices for your child if their coach is right or not for them. Of course not all coaches are perfect 100% of the time and there may be momentary blips where they are unable to fill all of the criteria above.
However, if you are not feeling assured by using the information above then you need to have a rethink? Do not take your decision lightly, but remember it can only take one really negative experience for your child with a coach and they can be put off for life, that certainly requires you to put in the time to reflect!