In youth sport some parents fall into the role of the coach. They may have been the parent that attended each training session or maybe they were the only parent to have put their hand up to help out. On the other hand, some parents are keen to be involved in youth sport and become a coach by choice. Regardless, taking on the role of a coach is a lot of responsibility and often parent-coaches don’t think about this. If you do coach, whether you choose to become a coach or fell into the role, its important that you ask yourself – why do I coach?

Nigel explains in our video that he chose to coach for the following reasons:

  • He was lucky as a kid that he had good coaches and had great experiences
  • He wants to give back and provide similar experiences to what he experienced as a kid to his team
  • He wanted to give it a shot and help out his kids

We love the fact that Nigel is coaching to help give back to his local community and that he uses his personal experiences that he had as a child to shape his coaching style. Nigel also understands that as a coach he can help shape the adults of the future and can instill good behaviours and values into children to support them to learn and grow.

What is your coaching style?

Are you coach-centered? Do you want to take the kids on your journey and to get them to buy into your dreams and ambitions? Or are you athlete-centered? Do you want to meet the needs of each individual in your team and to provide opportunities for each of them to develop their own skills and be the best that they can be?

Nigel’s coaching style in his own words is “firm but fair”. He focuses on the kids having fun but also has a certain level of expectation that the kids are there to learn. As a coach, understanding the needs of the kids is extremely important. This means that training sessions should be planned to meet the needs of players. Being able to help players develop technically and tactically as well as learning new skills is great, but meeting the social needs of the kids attending by making sure that the kids have fun and enjoy what they do is just as important. Research shows the three key reasons why children play sport is to play with their friends, have fun and learn new things.

As a coach being able to understand why your kids are playing and then designing sessions around meeting these outcomes has benefits for everyone involved.

What challenges do parent-coaches face?

Being a coach of a team that includes your own son or daughter can be both rewarding and challenging. Rewarding because you and your child can go on a journey and be part of a team together, sharing experiences and enjoyment through sport. But it can also be challenging, especially when there are perceptions (whether your own or the perceptions of other parents; and whether they are are in fact reality or not) that you treat your child differently compared to other members of the team.

Nigel is honest to share that sometimes his own sons have been disadvantaged when he has tried to manage people’s perceptions about treating team members equally. Setting clear expectations for players and parents can help manage some of these perceptions. Nigel talks briefly about having a parent and player meeting at the start of each season. Good Sports would highly recommend all coaches have a parent and player meeting at the start of each season to set expectations about player and parent behaviour. These meetings are also a good place to set expectations about how parents should communicate any concerns that they have with the coach.

Another challenge that many parent-coaches face is the ability to separate the two roles of parent and coach when interacting with their son or daughter. If this is a challenge that you face, one solution may be to have a special coach hat. Explain to your child that when you wear the special hat you are in coach mode, which means all players get treated equally, including them. Importantly, remember that you are a parent-coach and that as soon as you step away from training or the game, take the coach hat off and become a parent to your child.

What makes a positive sporting experience for Kiwi kids?

We couldn’t have said it any better than Nigel.

“If these guys can have some fun and learn, as a coach, my job is done. I might only go for another season because I might not have the skills to take them to the next level, but I can go hey, I have spent four or five years with these kids, that’s my time with them, they have had fun they have learned – job done!”