What is the job of a coach? Getting a group of players to come together and work as a team to achieve a common goal. The most difficult aspect of the coach is getting the players to embrace a fundamental concept that is an essential ingredient towards their success. The concept is that the team is bigger than any individual.
Coaches at the most fundamental level operate under this belief system to ensure that the success of their team. With that being said, I will not lay claim that I know anything about parenting at any level, but here are some basic rules that should be followed:
1. This is your child’s journey, not yours. Allow you child to grow and develop through this journey. Do not try and live your life through them. Be supportive and encouraging.
2. Life is not fair. Accept that. Coaches have favourites. Accept that too. Coaches will always favour players who give their team the best chance to win, players who have tremendous work ethic, players who have great attitudes, players who embrace their roles (whatever that role may be) and players who support the program’s culture and identity. If you think a coach doesn’t like your child; perhaps your child lacks one of the above characteristics.
3. As far as playing time goes, coaches want to win more than anything. They hate losing. If your child can help the team win, they will play…. If not, they won’t. End off!! (Exceptions can be made for the development teams)
4. As much as you may hate to admit; more often than not, your child’s coach is in a better position to evaluate and determine appropriate playing time because they see everything. They see the workouts, practices, meetings, they break down film and games (most parents get to see only the games, hence they get an incomplete picture)
5. Again, more often than not, through experience and professional development, coaches generally have a higher basketball IQ and an understanding of the game and what is needed; more so than the parents (so questioning a coaches X’s and O’s or their ability to judge talent is inappropriate)
6. Coaching your child from the sideline only serves to demean the coach and confuse your child. The only voice that a child should receive instructions from on the sidelines is from the coaching staff. Cheer for them all you want, but do not coach them. That isn’t your job!
7. We know that you love your child more than anything else in the world and want what is best for them. Coaches understand that and appreciate that, however, a coach’s obligation is to do what is best for the team. In many instances, what is best for your child and what is best for the team are not “one and the same”!!
8. There are three things that you should never choose to discuss with your child’s coach. These are playing time, game strategies or another player on the team. NEVER.
9. Politicking will never get your child more game time. It can, however, serve to interfere with the coaches judgement. This statement has never been said by any coach, ever..”I really need to start playing Abraham more because his mum thinks he isn’t getting enough court time.“
10. Encourage your child to communicate any issues, concerns or questions they may have directly with the coach by scheduling a meeting. If the child is under eighteen, than it may be necessary for you to attend that meeting (simply as an observer), but the discussion should be between a player and the coach.
11. Undermining your child’s coach doesn’t comfort your child. (Despite that being the intention most of the time). Subtle, passive aggressive comments such as, “your coach doesn’t have a clue what he is doing” or “I can’t believe that you don’t get more game time” serves only to enable your child to develop a bad attitude and to make excuses… both of which are completely unacceptable.
12. If your child isn’t getting the game time they feel they need or if they lose a tough game… use that a way of teaching your child how to overcome adversity. Teach them how to be accountable and take control of the situation. Teach them what to do in the future to possibly get a different result.
13. Stop getting after the referees. It sets a poor example for your child. The referees are doing the best they can. More often than not, the referees are trained and have a better understanding of the rules than parents do; furthermore, they are in a better position to make the call than the parent is. Another statement that has never been said, or will be said, “Can we stop the game? I apologise everyone. The really loud, foul mouthed lady in the seats is right. Her child did get fouled on that last play!“
14. Let’s face reality. It is highly unlikely that your child will play basketball professionally. So, how about you let your child enjoy the journey? Allow the coaches to instil in them life skills and use basketball as a vehicle to prepare them for the challenges that they will face in their personal lives later on.
The above article is adapted from Alan Stein, of Stronger Team. You can follow Alan Stein on strongerteam.com