Legal standards and health risks in sports today have made coaching a more stressful endeavor. National and local certifications require that coaches be able to spot a concussion or stop bullying. Coaches have taken a larger role educating their athletes not only on sports, but also on social issues. Moreover, we must communicate these life lessons amidst the noise of a “give it to me now” world with 24-7 interaction with our iPods, iPads and texting. We accept that the days of “just coaching” are a thing of the past.
Here are five suggestions for parents to better build that coach relationship as you move through your local youth league to higher levels of competition. These suggestions will help you, your young ones and their coaches enjoy the ride.
- Know your son or daughter’s practice habits
The best way to understand how your child measures up is to watch practice. You will see who can catch, who can throw and who gets beat in practice. That will give you a better understanding of playing time. We practice three times more than we play games, so that’s your measuring stick.
- Understand physical development
The bigger, faster and stronger players have the advantage. If your player does not have one or two of those three qualities, he or she may get left behind. Look at speed, strength and size from an unbiased perspective. See where you can help your child develop.
- Watch other teams compete
Measuring your child against his or her teammates may not give you a real understanding of where he or she sits on the athletic spectrum. If you really want to see where he or she matches up, watch other teams play for comparative references. Could you envision your son or daughter keeping up? Take the player with you. It may be a great eye-opener.
- Talk with your child about improvement
As coaches, we love moms and dads who ask us, “What can he do better?” or “What can she improve?” Coaches evaluate constantly, based on error detection and correction. Getting involved in this process constructively as a parent will allow you to bond with player and coach on the path toward improvement.
- Understand a coach’s true role
As a parent you will love, nurture and protect your child at all times. As coaches, we want to educate and develop our players to build the best team. We just need your help managing expectations.
An edited version of this story appeared in the May 2012 edition of Lacrosse Magazine, the flagship publication of US Lacrosse. To start your subscription, become a member of US Lacrosse today.
Photo Credit: Damon Tarver
Parents can download a free copy of the US Lacrosse Youth Rules and Best Practices guidebooks, published to ensure age-appropriate playing rules and quality youth lacrosse programs nationwide.