June 14, 2013

Fightin' Words: Coaching lessons for parents

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star


There is a fine line between parenting and coaching.

Sure, sometimes they end up crossing paths. I, for one, learned many life lessons in sports, and that's probably why I want to work in that area. 

But for the most part, they are separate, and it should stay that way. 

So far in my summer sports experience in Grady County, I've come across a couple of instances where parents -- mainly fathers -- have tried to mix the two. They begin by yelling out instructions. This is something I find most annoying, and I imagine coaches do, as well.

Think about it: a coach, someone who parents should trust with their child's talent, is there to instruct and he or she knows what they're doing. In the field of play, coaches are the sole source of wisdom, as they should be. What's more confusing for a young athlete than to hear their coach say one thing and their parent say another?

Then, there's the public chastising. This one is 99 percent dads who scream out things like "What'd you do that for?!?" or "What was that?!? Come on, son (or girl)! Get in the game!"

This is not to say the instructions or comments coming from parents are wrong. But, I don't care how many state championships you pitched in, how many touch downs you threw, or how amazing that moment was when you drained a jumper as the buzzer went off. The fact remains you are not the coach. Besides, parents have a different job.

When I was in middle school, I learned a lot from my basketball coach; but, there was one thing he told me and the other 13 and 14 year olds about why coaches are as intense and demanding as they are.

"We are not your parents," he put simply. "We tell you things the way they are so you'll concentrate on getting the little things right and play as hard as you can. We are not trying to hurt your feelings, but we aren't going to coddle you. That's your mom and dad's job."

Parents, you are not there to operate as an extended arm of the coach. Sure, get involved. Take your son and daughter out for a throw-around or a kick-about in the back yard. Offer a small tip here and there, but for the most part, use the time to bond with your kid through one of human-kind's most treasured institutions. 

But, if your kid messes up or is not doing something quite right, trust me; they're going to hear it from the coach. Your only job at that point is to tell your child to trust what the coach says, work hard, and they will get better. 

Then, you give them a hug and drive down the road for some ice cream. It's simple, but even parents can learn when their child's coach says "Do the little things right."

Contact Adam Troxtell, Sports Editor,  by following @ExpressStar_AT on Twitter or via e-mail ,