The Parent Coach – landed this role recently?
Your child has expressed an interest in sport, so you happily register them and take them to their first scheduled training session. More than likely it’s your local club and perhaps even the club you played for when you were a kid. Exciting times ahead! All of a sudden you realise there are no paid coaches and just like all the other parents standing on the sideline with their (hopefully) enthusiastic child, your life is full, work is busy and you don’t need another commitment. However, the kids need you and believe it or not, you are the best candidate for this new role.
Shock turning to reluctant agreement
In some sports, coaching is a profession such as tennis and golf. But in sports such as kids soccer and similar club sports, they are run by volunteer coaches and those with a vested interest in the game. Usually these are parents of the children who will be participating, and just like you have little or no experience with the game let alone coaching. But I encourage you not to let this detract from your willingness to take on a coaching role, consider it an advantage, as you learn more and become more experienced so will the kids.
Training and resources
The Australian Sports Commission, as the peak governing body for sport in our country offers an online coaching course for beginner coaches. It covers topics such as roles and responsibilities expected of a coach, planning and safety, working with parents, communication, group management and inclusive coaching practices. This is a good start if you have no experience working with children or limited experience as a coach. The course can be found on the ASC website via this link http://www.ausport.gov.au/participating/coaches/education/onlinecoach.
There are also plenty of free resources online such as session plans and ideas of games and activities that can be used in a variety of sports. Try to make your session as fun as possible, especially if you have been awarded the task of coaching the youngest or possibly least talented team!
Many sports clubs and State (eg Netball NSW) or National Sporting Organisations (eg Football Federation Australia) offer training for beginner coaches. These face to face training courses are usually no more than a 1-day commitment and offer information regarding skills, techniques and tactics and games associated with developing skill in that particular sport.
Your learning curve as coach
Now that you’re a coach or umpire, you’re going to make mistakes, so ensure you take on board these mistakes as a learning opportunity rather than causing you to back away from the job. You’re committed, and the kids are counting on you. While you’re learning of course, the kids are also going through their own new challenges with the game. As coaches we need to remember that everyone needs a chance to participate and achieve success. Everyone on the team is important. As the story goes, Michael Jordan did not make his high school basketball team.
Patience and mentoring
If you decide to take on a coaching role, I applaud you and wish you all the best. This can be a confronting time for your own child, as parent is now coach and they have to share your time, attention and also continue to behave as one of the team! Please be patient with all the children including your own, we want to create a positive experience for everyone.
If you know someone you can buddy up with or an experienced coach you can watch and copy, use this as a mentoring opportunity. There is no need for you to reinvent the wheel with games in your own sessions, but you will need to find your own coaching style that you can own and be happy with. Perhaps one day you will be mentoring other coaches?
By Kathy Fahim