Help parents to help players

This is based on an article by Jon Woodward, a Sports Coach UK Coach Education Advisor: The Role of a Sporting Parent: Parents Just Don’t Understand… or do they?

Whether you are coaching kids or adults, one of the key people in your players’ lives are their parents. Guide them into making the best environment for their children.

Enjoy the experience

Parents should enjoy their children’s sport, even if they are new to the game. It is something that they can share together, whether watching them play or talking about it afterwards.

Know when to let go

At the very early stages of a player’s development, the parent may be a driving force. However, there will be a time when it is right to pass on the responsibility for coaching to someone more suitable and qualified. That coach will be able to develop the player even more.

When to stand back

It is important to take an interest but not to overload the child with too much information, or push him too hard. The parent has to sometimes let the child find his own two feet, make some mistakes, perhaps even miss some matches.

It is more than a game

The parent should appreciate what the sport is doing for their child. It has a positive physical, mental and social impact on their lives. That means it is a worthwhile investment. There is an inevitable financial sacrifice to make, plus all the time spent on cold and wet touchlines. The outcomes are well worth it: Development, health and well-being.

Role models come from the house as well as the home

Of course, all children take note of the values of their parents. The child’s values can also come from role models within the world of sport. Parents can encourage their children to look at players who work hard for their rewards. That can be in rugby, like Leigh Halfpenny or Chris Robshaw, or in other sports, like some of the soccer or Olympic stars.

Their stress is not your stress

All players feel stress. The worry of not being selected or a poor performance can weigh heavy on any player’s mind. The parent has to empathise with the stress, but understand it is an important part of their child’s learning.

The great thing about sport is that there is always another day. Michael Jordan, the most successful basketball player of all time missed 26 game-winning shots in his career. But he made 25 – 50% more than any other player.

So, parents should not feel stress on their child’s behalf. Instead, they should help them face the challenge for another day.

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