On the morning of Father's Day nearly a year ago I thought I would share some thoughts on Twitter for all of the Dads that coach their kids' youth teams. I wrote a bunch in the morning and scheduled them to post automatically throughout the day. This way I could do what I really wanted to do that day... spend time with my four children.
Now that I spend a little less time coaching, I'm fortunate enough to travel the country for Positive Coaching Alliance and I have talked to youth sports organizations (YSOs) from Southern California to Toronto to Tampa, and dozens of stops in between. I get to "coach coaches" on ways to have more fun, maximize player performance, build Positive character attributes, and improve the entire Sports Experience for everyone involved.
When I present our Double-Goal Coach®: Winning and Life Lessons Workshop to these YSO's it's never lost on me the number of coaches that coach their own child appears to be well over 95% in every room. I always make sure to spend significant time on this topic, and it never fails to create great discussion and insight from other "Coach-Dads". The Coach-Dad dynamic (and Coach-Moms too) is a unique relationship that requires some close attention.
Decades ago, when there were far more family-owned businesses, sons and daughters would spend time observing their parents at work. They would see Mom's and Dad's set the example of what it took to be successful, and sometimes, how to handle failure or disappointment.
Eventually, and sometimes at a very young age, they would begin helping in the family store, doing errands at the shop, or working on the farm. It was during this time as "an apprentice" that they began to learn life-lessons like responsibility, reliability, initiative, hard-work, and commitment.
Those Mom-and-Pop Shops are fewer and farther between in today's world, and the opportunity for children to learn from their parents has to come from a different venue. I think our courts and fields of play have, in many ways, replaced the businesses as a place where
sons and daughters can watch Mothers and Fathers working, leading, succeeding and sometimes failing...while learning how to bounce back from those daily setbacks.
When Mothers and Fathers coach their child's teams they are essentially the CEO of that little organization, just like in their businesses. They need to organize a group of parents, teach the players, and make sure everyone enjoys the season. This doesn't happen without planning, hard work, diligence, and a tremendous amount of teamwork.
When a child gets to share in the experience of youth sports with their Coach-Mom/Coach-Dad, it can be a great learning experience. In many ways it mirrors the apprenticeships that children use to serve in the Mom-and-Pop Shops of yesteryear. This opportunity is one that can be tremendously rewarding and create an even deeper bond between the parent and child. I'd suggest the opportunity should be taken advantage of whenever the situation is right.
In many youth sports it isn't always necessary for the parent to have vast knowledge of the fundamentals of the sport or have been a tremendous player in their day. Leagues do a good job of providing coach education and there is so much information available on the internet anyone can learn on the run.
If a parent doesn't feel comfortable and the head-coaching gig is not what you're looking for - offer to help as one of the assistants. I've always felt the more the merrier when it comes to help, and it lowers the coach/player ratio. This provides more repetitions and learning opportunities for the players. A good head coach will usually provide enough guidance for even the most novice assistant coaches get through the next drill or practice
With youth baseball and softball seasons getting ready to go, and volunteerism in full bloom, I thought that I would share some guidelines for all of the Moms and Dads that coach their children's' youth teams this spring. I hope I lived up to most of them ... most of the time.
Up next will be the Twenty-Five "Coach-Dad" Tips I shared on Twitter nearly a year ago. At that time one of my other "tweeps" suggested I compile them to share as a set with others, and this is as good a time as any. Come back on Wednesday and we'll get started. See you then.