I see a lot of parents coaching their kids during the spring and summer time with different AAU or travel basketball teams. It's a great opportunity to spend time with your kid, but it can also hinder your kids development if you are not careful. Growing up I played for my dad. He coached me in baseball, football, and basketball. He started coaching me because he felt I wasn't getting the opportunity I deserved. With the opportunity came a lot of pressure to perform up to his standards and expectations.
Today there are so many opportunities for the youth players. There are teams that travel all over the country to play in front of college coaches and scouting services for the chance to secure a scholarship. You don't have to coach your kid on the sideline to know how to coach your kid. This blog is also for the parent that puts the pressure on their son or daughter to perform to a level that may not be realistic. There are some times when the parent lives THEIR dreams through their kid. So how do you coach your kid? I have some advice on how to coach your kid below.
Don't live your dream through them. Realize if your kid decides to play basketball, baseball, soccer, football, or any other sport it's their decision to make. Don't force anything on them. When they feel like they have to do something they really don't want to do it brings on anxiety and pressure that will hinder their performance. Remember the kid is wanting to play the sport because it's fun. Let them enjoy the sport that they love to play.
Let them have fun. Some parents are so quick to turn a sport into a job. Let a kid be a kid and enjoy the game. If your son or daughter is in the 2nd grade, why are you making them get up at 5am everyday to run, do push ups, and go through an extensive ball handling workout? Just because your kid is in the 2nd grade and can dribble the air out the ball and is a YouTube sensation does not mean they will be the next CP3 15 years down the road. Let them play to have fun. If they want to go to the gym and work on ball handling, that's great. Just let them enjoy the game while their young. They will have plenty of time when they get older to treat it like a job.
Don't be a 24/7 coach. Ok, the game is over dad. Why are we still talking about Saturday's game on Monday at the dinner table? It's time to let it go. If you feel like you should spend time talking about the game after the game then there should be guidelines for you follow. You could talk about the game on the ride home. Once you get in the house it's done and over with. Or you could only talk about the game and how to get better during your next practice. But it should not be on the way home, at dinner, and while the college or NBA game is on. Now if your son or daughter ask you a question specifically about basketball then that's your time to answer. Let them come to you and it will make the conversation much easier. They will be more open to suggestions and constructive criticism.
Use the sandwich method. As soon as the game is over the first thing out your mouth should not be, "Why you have 3 turnovers?". Especially if they played a good game. If a kid is walking off the court and feeling good about how they played and your first comment is negative, you could deflate their confidence. I'm not telling you to not be honest with your kid, but there's a time and a place for everything. Sometimes you have to enjoy the moment and let them feel good about their performance. When using the sandwich method you should squeeze a negative comment in between two positive comments. An example of this could be, "You did well tonight. You hit some big shots down the stretch. You have to get better defensively on the ball, but you did a great job jumping the passing lanes and getting steals."
Be honest to them and yourself about their skill level. Not every kid can be a phenom. There are plenty of players in college and in the pros that were not phenoms growing up. Be honest with them about their skill level. If your kid is a senior in high school and hasn't received any offers from D1 schools then it's probably not going to happen. So quit telling your son/daughter they are a D1 player. Honesty goes a long way. The earlier you are honest with yourself and your kid the easier it will be down the road.
Treat your kid like every other player. If your son or daughter has the green light to take bad shots, play poor defense, and have a bad attitude other players and parents will notice. You can't allow your kid to get away with certain things that other players can't. I know you want the best for your kid, but you have to separate parent from coach. If you get onto one player for taking a bad shot and you let your kid get away with it then you are setting yourself up for a big headache down the road.
Don't talk bad about their coach around them. This is for the parent who doesn't coach but may spend a lot of time with their kid helping them develop. One of the worst things you can do is talk bad about the kid's coach in front of him or her. Saying things like "Your coach don't know what they are doing" or "Your coach is terrible" can really confuse your kid. If you have issues with the coach's style or decisions and you need to vent, you should do that behind close doors to a spouse or friend, but never in front of the kid. You will be putting your kid in a tough situation. This type of negative talk will not only affect your kid but can also spill over to other players and hurt the whole team.
I hope these tips shed some light on how you can coach your kid. It's not to criticize parents, but just to make them aware of the situation.If you have any comments or questions about this blog please post them below. Or you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.