How Does Your Presence Affect Your Kid’s Performance?
I used to live close to tennis court; so close that I could see the court from my back window. One day, a coach was using the court to conduct a one-one-one session with a boy who looked to be about 10 years of age.
However, what was meant to be a one-on-one session, was rapidly turning into a two-one-one session.
Despite there being seating for spectators against the court’s perimeter fence, standing with toes touching the court’s sideline, arms folded, was who I assumed to be Dad. He appeared stern, intently watching every move his son made. I could feel the pressure on the kid, even from where I was standing. Worse still, Dad regularly interjected to reinforce the coach’s instructions and even add some of his own. I inwardly cringed every time this happened, feeling the coach’s pain.
Parents: coaches really dislike parents interfering with their coaching. Many coaches are too polite to say anything, or prefer to avoid confrontation. If you could read their minds, however, you would be in no doubt.
Coaches dislike parental interference because it gives the impression that the parent doesn’t fully trust the coach or the child.
Parental interference belittles the coach’s authority.
It interrupts the session and distracts the kid. The kid becomes more focused on the parent than the coach or themselves.
It doesn’t add to the coach’s message, it dilutes it.
A parent’s continual interference in a coaching session stifles a kid’s ability to become self-reliant. I feel sad and annoyed when, during one of my sessions, I see a kid continually glancing at their parents to seek approval.
And frankly a parent’s comments during a session are often ill-timed and sometimes just plain wrong.
Advice to Parents
Parents – if you take your child to a coach, let the coach do the coaching. Let the kids and the coaches do their thing.
Let the coach and the kids be in charge of the session.
DO NOT interfere in any way with the coaching. And avoid giving the impression that you are critically analysing your child’s (and the coach’s!) every move.
Chill out. Sit/stand back preferably on the other side of the fence but stay close enough to show your support and to be available in case the coach DOES need your assistance for some reason (e.g an injury to your child).
I actually like parents being present during my sessions. I like chatting to parents before and after sessions. I like seeing them enjoying a session. I like them on hand in case of an accident or incident or to accompany their child to the toilet. I like them being there, just as long as when the session begins, they step back and let me coach – uninterrupted.
I would love to hear your stories!
Are you a coach who has had to manage this issue? How did you approach this? Are you a parent who has witnessed another parent’s interfering behaviour? Are you a parent who has decided to change your ways? Do you think that parents should be able interject from the sidelines? Let me know by leaving a reply/comment or by using the below contact details.
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Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes, and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or via email. Check out Coaching Young Athletes on YouTube, the Coaching Young Athletes podcast, and the Coaching Young Athletes E-Book Series.