These days it is very normal for the head coach of your child’s hockey team to be a Parent/Coach. I will say the majority of the time these coaches that are parents provide a great experience for their child and team. However, there are times being a parent in charge of a team can have potential challenges that will eventually materialize.
Let us cut to the chase… The most obvious concern is that the coach’s child will get more playing time or preferential treatment. Newsflash, it can sometimes work the other way too. For example, there will be times that the coach’s child may get less playing time or first to be benched for missing tasks to avoid any potential allegations of partiality. Parent Coaches must deal with the impact of these decisions on how their child, his/her teammates and parents understand them.
We also have to look at the other side of this dynamic as well. Being the child of the coach can sometimes add stress too. The higher expectation, being harshly criticized in front of his/her teammates and/or the unwelcome comments by the parents. This had led the way for many coach’s children to choose not to play hockey anymore or any other sports, which is not fair.
There is good news… The upside is immeasurable of being a Parent Coach
- More time with your child
- Building a strong bond and relationship with your child, which is very important today
- Passing on your values and knowledge to your child
- Lastly, getting to see firsthand (at all levels) how your child progresses
I was speaking with one of my assistant coaches from previous years and he said the following about this topic.
“When we were coaching my son we had great and just awful father-son relationship moments. From winning games together, watching him score the big goals and singling him out for a mistake that no other player gets singled out for. Looking back, those are some of the best years of our lives.” As he ended his statement with a big smile.
Listen, every Parent Coach may have their own theory on how to best balance the relationship with their child while coaching. However, as coaches, we always need to gain new insights in order to grow and excel.
I have coached for many years without a child on any of my teams. Last year was my first full year being a Parent Coach. I was so nervous and did not want to have that “Parent Coach” stigma. What I did do is remember all those years of watching and listening to fantastic coaches that were parents and what they did to have a successful relationship with their children.
One important rule I followed – I was the coach at the rink, but on the way home I just needed to be Dad… It took a lot of practice and patience.
Five Tips to be a Successful Parent-Coach:
- The relationship with your child is more important than any sport or game.
- Find a balance between favouring your child and singling them out.
- Be welcoming to all Parents on the team.
- You must have thick skin. Parents usually criticize you vs. thanking you.
- Always be open to learning new systems to coach your child and team every year.
One thing for sure, Parent Coaches have to show as much patience for their own child as for the rest of the players. I do not think it is fair to criticize your child after every shift just because you have that option. And last thing…. Have Fun!
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