Friday, August 21, 2015

Striking a Balance Between Parent and Coach

as seen in USA Hockey Magazine's August 2015 edition

  Ask nearly any sports fan, and it’s more likely than not that the waterworks start flowing when Field of Dreams hits its crescendo:

  “Hey, Dad … you wanna have a catch?” asks Kevin Costner’s steel-faced Ray Kinsella.

  It’s typically 13-year-old-girl-at-a-One-Direction-concert from there on – even among the toughest, Tie Domi-est of individuals.  Such is the power of sports to create that bridge between parent and child. It’s no longer just a game, but an emotional lifeline.

  But what happens when that lifeline intersects with another – that of coach? Even the best parent-child relationship can be strained when mom or dad earns a coaching certificate.
     Lancaster,PA hockey dad Tim Frey knew there would be more than a few rough patches when he signed on to coach his son’s PeeWee AA team. His biggest challenge was making sure didn’t “over-coach” his young goalie, especially when away from the rink.  Assigning his assistant as his son’s position coach was a smart play, “I was hoping that hearing advice from a different voice, it might register better than if ‘dad’ was giving the same suggestions.”
     My daughter’s coach will often tap one of our other coaches to talk to his daughter about her performance. “There are times when I have thoughts that I may be pushing my kids into something they may not really want or even holding them back in certain ways by coaching them at certain levels,” says Dave Harter from Camillus, N.Y.

     Sometimes coaches overcompensate too. “I am quite often much harder on my own child as I expect a very high level of respect and sportsmanship,” says Harter.    When it comes to discipline, striving for fairness can be a struggle. “You can’t come down harder on them, just because they are your kid or you can’t tell them they’re grounded or you threaten to take away their phone. You have to keep discipline hockey-related, says Nathan Brightbill, Hersey Jr Bears 14U girls coach. “Praise them when they deserve it, Instead of being worried the team parents think you’re showing favoritism.”

    The coach’s kid always plays. We’ve all heard that one and may be guilty of saying it to
other parents. There’s nothing more frustrating than watching the coach’s kid receive all the playing time while a better player is riding the bench.  Coaches who volunteer may feel they’re entitled to the perk for stepping up.  But the majority, like Frey, do it for all the right reasons, “The greatest joy I got to experience as a coach, was being able to place a medal around my son’s neck after winning our league championship. I  get to tap him on his mask when heading to the handshake line.”

      Frey is in no hurry to see it all end anytime soon, “I relish the time he and I get to spend
together heading to the rinks.” Keep it fun, adds Frey, who points out success is measured in ways other than wins and losses.  It’s all amatter of striking that balance between coach – who wants what’s best for the team – and parent – who wants what’s best for his or her child. Do that, and you’ll cultivate the trust of everyone on the team – including your son or daughter.

  Because afterall, if you build it, they will come.