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When Dad is the Coach

  • Dr. Ken Canfield
  • 2001 27 Jun
When Dad is the Coach
As your son or daughter signs up for youth soccer or T-ball, you'll notice a little box on the application which a dad can check if he's willing to coach.

Well, even if you've never coached, I'd suggest you go for it—maybe just as an assistant coach. If you do check that box, here are a few things to think about before the season begins:

First, don't put pressure on your child. Believe it or not, your child, even if he tries his best, may not be the star or team leader. Let him find his own place on the team. Sometimes you'll beam with pride and want to scream, "That's my son." Other times you'll want to hide. I know your heart will be pounding every time he runs out there. But whether he succeeds or fails, do your best to treat him just like his teammates.

Second, make sure you have some practice time alone with your child. Many of the other kids will go home and play catch with their dads. You may think that, as a coach, you've already done that. But your son or daughter also needs your time one-on-one.

Third, we've all heard Vince Lombardi's words: "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." I'll agree with that only if we can redefine what winning is. Are you out to have a perfect win-loss record? Remember, Coach, little league wasn't formed so middle-aged men could show off their coaching skills. The goals are fun, exercise, sportsmanship and self-improvement. Make sure everyone participates to the best of his ability and contributes to the team. Give that struggling kid a few extra innings at second base—he may cost you a game, but he'll also eventually throw somebody out. That's real winning.

Finally, coaching can be a chance to reach out—not just to your kids, but to some of the other kids on the team. These days, if you put 15 kids on a ball field, at least two or three will come from broken homes, and another few will have dads who just don't have a clue. What a great chance this is for them to be encouraged by an adult male who cares for their well-being. As a coach, you can make a life-changing impression on your child and every other kid on that team.

Dr. Ken Canfield is the president and founder of the National Center for Fathering.

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