Can you picture some kind of game, competition or event that you went to recently? You’re probably seeing the stadium, gym, classroom that is was held in. You probably enjoyed it for the most part. Can you think of anything that was distracting or annoying? Another kid competing? Another parent?
We’ve all had at least one experience of wanting to shake that annoying competitor, be they actually competing or just dictating from the stands, and say, “Really? Can’t you just shut up for one second?” Okay, okay, maybe you would be nicer but it can just get downright annoying! And being a coach myself in the past and doing private lessons now, I figured I’d share a little bit of the experience I’ve had over the years. Here are the 7 things your kid’s coach wants YOU to know:
Be on time. Whether we are getting paid or not, this is super important. If I’m coaching a team and you arrive late consistently, that’s basically telling the kids that your time is a lot more valuable than their time. Plus it takes away valuable teaching time while we wait for your child to catch up, i.e. warming up and doing drills. If I am a private coach, you’ve either cut the lesson short or have made it so the rest of my lessons will run later. I have a family too.
Now there are going to be times when you’re late, and that’s totally fine. I’m late every once in a while. But to make a habit of it says that you just need to start getting ready earlier.
Be coachable. This one goes for you and your child. There is a reason you have me coach your kid in the first place. If you don’t want your child to learn from me, then be their coach. But if you are going to have me there, trust that I know what I’m doing. As a pitching coach for softball, I have had so many parents who basically take over the entire lesson by focusing on one little tiny aspect of the pitch, when there are so many things I can be teaching them at once. And then they wonder why their kid isn’t getting any better. Now I don’t mind the occasional mention of a habit but when pitch after pitch the tone gets a little bit harsher and you are reducing your kid to tears, there’s something wrong there. If you’ve hired me for something like this, it’s because I’ve had the experience of playing the sport, I know how it goes and what will help your child.
Be a friend. There are so many things that kids need to learn and that’s why you’re there as a parent, to teach them how to stay out of trouble, etc. But when it comes to sports, or dance, or whatever, it’s a tool that can be used to teach your kiddos valuable life lessons. If they feel so much pressure from you to succeed that they are going to crack, it’s likely that they won’t stay with the activity long no matter how much you want them to. Listening is the key here, folks. Listen to how they feel after a practice, a recital, a competition. You can pick up some key signs to what’s going on with them with just a little patience and no agenda.
Be inquisitive. Now there might be some coaches that get a little defensive when being asked questions but I love to hear questions about anything because that means that you are thinking about things and that you are coachable. If you are asking what drills you can use to work on at home, I will love you as a coach. And chances are (unless you are making your kid do drills for hours a day) they will improve faster than the kids that don’t have that support at home. Ask questions about form or anything the coach thinks might help. It’s a lot easier to foster a good habit than to break a bad one.
Be courteous. This goes a little bit with being on time but if you’re going to be late or can’t make an appointment, pick up that phone that you have glued to you and say so. We aren’t mind readers and it’s not fun to sit there for the amount of time for your lesson when there are a lot of other things we could get done and other kids that are wanting to use that valuable time. It’s just nice!
Along with this, be nice when it comes to the competitions. Not only does your child not need to be embarrassed by your shouting and yelling, but it’s a game. Or one recital. Yes, I know that that one event can mean the difference between a scholarship or not but attitude is everything.
Be understanding. Every parent wants to think that their child is the greatest thing since sliced bread but sometimes you have to take a step back and recognize their true potential. If they have been going at something for a year with no improvement, it might be time to find where their talent really lies. Granted, if they are constantly working on something, they are bound to get better at some point. Another reason to listen to your child and see what they want to do instead of what you want to do.
Be there. I think this is one of the most important things overall. Yes, you can send your kid to every lesson, camp, etc. and they can be great at it, but it might not mean much to them if you aren’t there. There are always things that can’t be avoided but don’t make them a habit. Do everything you can to be there, to cheer them on from the sidelines, the stands, the audience, whatever it may be. It’s a sacrifice to be a parent but it’s also one of the most rewarding things you can do.
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