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Coaching from the Sidelines

We want our children to give their best when they participate in extracurricular sports and activities. The problem is, we sometimes get so caught up that we actually make it harder for them to be successful in their moment. Here are some things for sports parents to think about. I am using Tae Kwon Do as an example because that is what I do.

Consider what your child has on their mind during the 60 or 90 second round in a sparring match:

Which technique should I throw?
• What technique is my opponent going to throw? 
• What if I get hit? 
• What did my coach just say? 
• Are they cheering for me or my opponent?
• Where am I in the ring? Close to the boundary line?
• What are the rules about hitting the head again? 
• What if I miss?

• What is the score? 

• How much time do I have left?

• What did coach say to do when "this" happens?

You can imagine this a lot to think about. I promise you, they are barely able to hear and comprehend what the coach is saying to them with all the thoughts in their head. Well-meaning "advice" from parents on the sideline is adding just another element to all that is in their heads. 

So, although you have good intentions with coaching from the sidelines, there are more productive options:

  • Give your child tips and encouragement before class or competition.
  • During the match itself, show support with cheering and clapping. Don't coach.  
  • Provide constructive feedback after class or competition. Better yet, meet with the coach to hear his or her feedback. 
Competition builds confidence. It tells us how we stack up against our peers. We learn where we have to work harder to get better.  It is a source for great memories that last a lifetime. Help your child by being supportive by being their biggest fan, not their sideline coach.

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