How to Be a Great Parent Coach

You sign your child up to play a sport. And then comes the phone call: the team is short of coaches. Would you consider helping out? If you want to say yes, but worry that you don’t have what it takes, we’ve rounded up a list winning qualities to help you out.

A great parent coach is:

Sincere. Don’t say “great job” to every kid as they come off the field. It becomes meaningless with overuse. Instead offer genuine praise and heartfelt feedback. Even a blunder during the game doesn’t sting as much when the coach shows she feels the pain with you.

Upbeat. No matter how unfair the referee may be that day or how much their team is losing by, a great coach finds the bright spots. In such situations you can help the kids by dialing down your objectives. For example, instead of asking your team to score, challenge them to work on their passing game (“let’s see how many passes in a row we can get this time”).

Encouraging. Use the sandwich approach when offering feedback about a player’s performance during a game and while running drills in practice. Point out a positive: “you ran hard down the field. I can see you’re fast.” Express what needs improvement: “next time I’d like to see you try it a little slower, and see if that helps your aim while shooting on goal.” Finish with another affirmation: “I’ll bet you’ll see a difference right away.”

Firm. Set boundaries and hold to them. Nothing shortchanges eager players like kids who won’t cooperate and a coach who won’t run the show. Explain your expectations at the beginning of each practice, along with how you will handle non-cooperation. Then follow through. And if you are simply an assistant coach, do your best to aid the head coach in keeping practice on track.

Being a great coach for your child’s team isn’t a matter of being proficient at the sport yourself. It’s about being a grounded leader, role model and mentor for kids.