Coaching Your Own Child (Wallace Minor Soccer)

PrintCoaching Your Own Child

Do the Math

By: Dan Minutillo

Fourteen years of coaching year around plus four kids playing soccer plus two teams per year plus one of my own children on each team coached plus 10 to 12 games per weekend during tournaments plus spring soccer plus fall soccer plus two indoor soccer sessions plus year around Plyometrics for all plus monthly keeper training for one, equals one very tired but very satisfied parent - can’t be.

Tough schedule but doable, enjoyable and satisfying if you learn from your mistakes as you go through the process of coaching your own. What are those mistakes?

Your Child Should Not Be The Focal Point Of Your Team

1. Never, never, never believe, or in any way demonstrate, that your child is the star of your team. In most cases he or she isn’t but even if their skills are far superior to others on the team, never let that be known by you. You can’t favor your own because that, by itself, is insulting to the others on your team. Soccer is the ultimate team sport. Short of a Pele or Adu, there are usually no superstars on any soccer team---contrary to every parent’s belief. Every player has a role and each role is just as important as the next. Your players will revolt against you if you demonstrate even the slightest inclination that you favor your own over any other player or if you show that you believe that your child is the best. Don’t do it. Treat all of your players equally and fairly.

Your Child Will Make Mistakes

2. Do not expect more or less out of your child than you expect out of any other player on the team. Your child will make mistakes and great plays all in the course of a game or practice. That’s normal and healthy. What is not healthy is for you to chastise or correct your child any more or any less than any other player on the field. If you chastise your child more than the others, you will create a wall between you and your child that will eventually become impossible to penetrate and carry over into your non-soccer activities with that child. Treat all of your players equally and fairly.

Take Time To Know Your Child

3. Know your child’s mental make-up as well as you know the mental make-up of your other players. If you are coaching your own, you need to take extra time to understand how your child reacts in certain soccer “learning” situations. This is much more difficult than you may think because we all have a built in concept about our child’s personality based on how they have reacted to certain situations at home, school, on vacation, away from soccer. These built in concepts don’t always hold when trying to get a child to react in a certain way in order to make certain technical or tactical corrections during practice. Start from scratch when analyzing and learning about how your child will react to your coaching. A child will react to you very differently as a coach then that child reacts to you at home as a parent. But above all, in all situations, treat all of your players equally and fairly.

Peer Group Pressure

4. Be ready for your child to react differently to your comments during soccer training or at a game than when that child is with you and your family at home, away from the other players. I was stunned the first time I saw one of my children act out by trying to be cool and impress friends during soccer training. It really threw me at first. I let it go and just observed. After this happened a few times, I noticed a pattern that this would only happen when teammates were near. I quickly learned to deal with this sort of problem off of the field, at home, in a quiet environment. This sort of peer group pressure is very strong, sometimes much stronger than your influence as a parent or coach. Deal with it privately. Each of your players will react to this sort of pressure differently but all will be well if you treat all of your players equally and fairly.

Your Spouse Is Not The Coach

5. Be ready for some arm chair coaching from your spouse when coaching your own. Your spouse may be a doctor, engineer or lawyer but you are the coach; you have thought through your plans; you know the mental, physical, technical, tactical and sociological state of your players---your spouse does not. Listen intently, take your spouses advice seriously but you make the final coaching decisions. Understand that your spouse may not be as objective as you and your spouse may have some prejudice favoring your child. Blindly following your spouse’s advice will cause a situation where you are not treating all of your players equally and fairly.

Leave Your Relationship Problems At Home

6. Coaching is hard enough when the team is comprised of players not related to you but impossible with a child on your team if you are not able to disassociate yourself from any carry over good or bad feelings that you might have about your child from some interaction that you had before practice or a game. Leave your personal feelings at home. Easy to say but very tough to accomplish unless you work at it over and over again. Your personal feelings about your child on any given day will taint your conduct, your observations, and your attitude toward your child. This clouded subjectivity is extremely dangerous if you hope to advance your child’s soccer skills in pace with the rest of the team. If you do not disassociate yourself from any carry over feelings about your child, you will not be able to treat all of your players equally and fairly.

So, what’s the short answer to learning how to coach your own? By now you should have it — concentrate on acting in a way that ensures that you are treating all of your players equally and fairly, i.e., all of your players, including the one that shares your genes.  Hope this helps you.
Dan Minutillo