Parents who coach youth sports have a unique advantage when it comes to raising their own children. Though there are differences in how someone might coach a team of athletes and how a parent advises a child, there is some overlap between teaching methods and the instillation of values. Finding a balance between coaching and parenting is important for parents, but utilizing practices cultivated on the field can help improve familial relations and the overall success of a child.
Much like leadership, there are many different styles of parenting. Some experts believe that a coaching style is the most conducive to a child’s growth. Below are a few ways coaching a sports team and raising a child are related and beneficial for child development and life success.
Ultimately, a coach’s responsibility is to help the athletes on their team grow, advance, and learn. Parents have a similar aspiration. While some coaches may adopt a “tough love” approach to their practice, generally coaches will provide encouragement and constructive criticism for the purpose of guiding a young athlete toward improvement. A good coach doesn’t settle for an athlete’s existing abilities; they strive to provide the resources and opportunities for growth and development.
Parents similarly want to see their children grow in productive ways, so knowing when to offer praise and criticism becomes an important facet of parenting endeavors. For parents, providing both responses when appropriate promotes positive behavior and permits learning and improvement.
Coaches provide support during practices and games alike. However, they do not directly interfere with the gameplay aside from offering encouragement and ideas from the sidelines. Doing so creates a sense of responsibility for the young athletes, granting them an opportunity to use what they have learned, apply their skills, and make independent (albeit supervised) decisions.
Parents who adopt a coaching style should consider this practice in addition to the methods of encouragement. Responsibility and independence are essential life skills children should develop at an early age. By allowing children to make their own choices and experience mistakes of their own making in a safe, structured environment, parents can help teach children how to cope with and learn from failure without getting discouraged.
A coach who spends practice shouting at young athletes will likely not witness great results. At the heart of a good coaching experience is strong communication. Knowing when to offer advice and when to simply listen are crucial for learning how to guide athletes in the right direction that is most appropriate for their particular growth path.
For parents, knowing when to speak and listen can be challenging, especially when children reach certain ages. However, learning to ask productive questions, listen fully, and respond in appropriate, mature ways can facilitate trust and effective communication skills in their children.
In many ways, coaching and parenting share similar goals and practices. When applied effectively, parents can incorporate coaching methods into their parenting style to better teach essential skills and create a stronger relationship with their children.