Thank you to Dan Cottrell for contributing this guest blog to the site. Dan has previously held coaching roles with the Young Ospreys Academy and was Assistant Coach on the Wales Women’s Team for the 2010 World Cup. He’s editor of Rugby Coach Weekly(www.rugbycoachweekly.net) which last year celebrated it’s 10th year of publication.
Parent-centred coaching is part of the child-centred approach
Child-centred learning puts the young player first when you are building your coaching plan. Include the key coaching element of the parent to make it work better.
Young players are receptive to child-centred approach to coaching if you can challenge them at the right pace. However, because there’s a lot of emphasis on them to give you feedback and respond to your questions and problem-solving, they need a strong team of people around them. Otherwise, they might see mistakes and non-linear progress as failure and lose confidence.
Parents are a central part of their child’s confidence. They need to be an integral part of the learning process, so why not make it parent-centred and player-centred.
Training times are normally set in stone. However, you might send out a reminder.
Why not include a question for the session in the reminder? For example, “Ask your son/daughter two things, 1: What would be a good way to start the session? 2: What would be a good way to change the Zombie’s game we played last week?”
When the parents arrive at the session, ask one or two of them what response they got.
We all want our parents to ask good questions after the session. Why not get the players to ask a question to the parent?
Keep it simple and open-ended. For example: “Which bit of the game did you enjoy most?” or “What was my best bit?”
Child coaching parent
The players, though they probably don’t recognise it, need to be aware of how their parent can support them. The questions from the post-training support are one way.
You could also encourage the child and parent to develop a support system for each other. For example, you could have a list of situations and give them to the parent and child to fill in together.
Some examples could be: “What’s the best thing to say to me if we lost a game?” “What happens if one of my team mates says something I don’t like?” “How do you want me to react if I score a try? Is that the same as making a tackle?” “What is the most important thing for both of us when I’m playing for the team?”
Value system development
All National Governing Bodies have strong guidelines on how parents, coaches and players should enact their values. The danger that these are handed out at the start of a season, and rarely mentioned.
A parent-centred approach might put the onus on the parents to think about each value on a weekly rotation. Again, this might be put into a communication, or as a question asked by one of the players.
In essence: “What can our family do this week to live up to that value?”
Parent-centred means that the parents lead their own learning, just as much as the players do when you are training with them. Don’t expect to have every parent following your own path. You create the environment, you make the suggestions, you react to their thoughts.
However, they will create their own outcomes by their actions. Yet, if you can make it a joint responsibility, and by that I mean “family” and not between you and the child then it should be a more powerful and permanent outcome.
You should now see that by making your coaching child-led, you are inevitably coaching the parent in the same way. They will be on a learning journey too.
Whether you make that explicit or not is your call. Perhaps it’s time we made it clear that we are ALL in it together.