Loading ...

How to make the most of coaching your own child | Coaching Children (Ages 5-12) | ConnectedCoaches

ConnectedCoaches uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to the use of the cookies. For more details about cookies how we manage them and how you can delete them see the 'Use of cookies' part of our privacy policy. Click the cross to close this cookie notice. X

Home » Groups » Coaching Children (Ages 5-12) » blogs » Gordon MacLelland » How to make the most of coaching your own child
Coaching Children (Ages 5-12)

Leave group:

Are you sure you want to leave this space?

Join this group:

Join this space?

Add a new tab

Add a hyperlink to the space navigation. You can link to internal or external web pages. Enter the Tab name and Tab URL. Upload or choose an icon. Then click Save.

The name that will appear in the space navigation.
The url can point to an internal or external web page.
Login to follow, share, and participate in this group.
Not a member?Join now

How to make the most of coaching your own child

Avg: 4.91 / 5 (3votes)

At grassroots level thanks to all the help given by wonderful parent volunteers there is the scenario that the parent may end up being responsible and coaching their own child as part of a team.

It is a wonderful opportunity for parent and child to bond further, an opportunity for the parent to be actively involved in their child’s life and most importantly a chance to create great memories for the years to come.

I remember fondly the time my own father spent coaching me ‘mini rugby’ when I was between the ages of 6 and 8 and I can still picture him now kitted out in his tracksuit smiling and encouraging all that wanted to participate in the game.

Unfortunately coaching your own child is not always a positive experience.  Here are few helpful tips to ensure that the shared experience is a positive one.

  • Before you think of volunteering have a discussion with your child about how they feel about you potentially being their coach.  If they really are apprehensive then perhaps it is best that you remain the most supportive you can be from the sidelines both for them and the coach.  Offer to help in other ways that are not quite as obvious if you would like to play a greater role and volunteer your time.

  • Ensure there is a difference between you being the parent and the coach.  Your child will need to know that when you are the coach you need to treat all players equally but as soon as you become the parent again you need to make sure your child knows that you care about them the most.  Work hard not to muddy the waters on this.  Being ‘coach’ all week can only have negative implications!

  • Strike the right balance on praising and penalising your child.  I found this very tough as a coach and was probably too tough on my own child and did not give out enough praise for the right things.  The reason I did this, is that there is no worse way of poisoning an environment for other players and other parents than when a coach leans too much in favour of their own child.  As you can see the problem is you can go too much the other way.  If you have an assistant or a friend check in with them to see they perceive you are striking the correct balance?

  • Don’t discuss other parents and other players with your child particularly in a negative vane.  It makes things really tricky for a young child who is probably very good friends with the player and whose parents you may be criticising.  The child needs to make his own mind up about the other players and you should not be looking to form a coaching alliance with your own child.

  • Try to act on the sidelines in a way that would make your son or daughter proud to have you as a parent and a coach. Remember, your child is not the only one that’s performing during the game (don’t follow them around with a spotlight over their head). You are also a performer and the quality of their experience is firmly in your hands. Conduct yourself in such a way that you clearly communicate to your child and those around you that this is just a recreational game for children, played by children because it’s FUN.

  • Don’t get sucked into the whole week revolving around training and matches for you and your child. Try not to spend the rest of the week practising further at home and talking about last weeks game the whole time and the so called ‘big match’ coming up.  It is too much and too much overload for a child and for the rest of the family.  Do other things as a group away from the sport that way.  That way everyone stays fresh and does not resent the huge commitment that you have taken on.

” The major positive aspect includes being able to spend quality time together. Additionally, your child perceives that he/she gets special attention, praise, and perks, such as being on familiar terms with the coach. In the child’s perception, having you as a parent as a coach is an opportunity to receive motivation and technical instruction that others on the team do not get. In the perspective of the parent, being both coach and parent provides the opportunity to teach values and skills, the opportunity to see how your child interact with friends, and the ability to see your child’s accomplishments and take pride in them” – Weiss & Fretwell 2005

I’ll finish by saying enjoy the experience and without parent coaches we would have no game and most teams wouldn’t even exist. My advice is don’t coach your own child forever. It’s great at the younger ages but there is a time to step away and just watch them play. I would suggest that you devote some of your time to just being a dad or mum (supporting from the sidelines) and when it’s time to let go (as the coach), let them go.

If you enjoyed this you can find all my other ConnectedCoaches blogs here. You can find out more about me by visiting my profile.

Login to follow, share, comment and participate. Not a member? Join for free now.

Comments (5)


Nice article Gordon, and one I would wholeheartedly encourage potential coaches to read before jumping in. My son started playing rugby at 3 and I soon started helping with coaching - but we talked about it first, ans we still talk about it now he’s 9 and we’re loving our rugby together. We often devise the following weekends training plan between us - that’s my offer to him in return for him understanding I can’t spend all my time with him. Works really well for us 👍

Avg: 0 / 5 (0votes)

My daughter started playing table tennis at age 7. I was her primary coach within the club. Now that she's 12 and I still mostly take care of the younger players, she has moved on to other coaches but I still supplement her sessions at the club with mini sessions at home. Us coaches speak at the end of the club session and discuss what she needs to work on and focused work is done at home. The system has worked immensely well so far.

Avg: 0 / 5 (0votes)

I am afraid that I disagree with the thrust of this post, parent coaches are not just there to make up the numbers they really are placed in a good position to add very real value to the coaching experience. They are well placed to learn from their children and through this improve the coaching they provide to others. My son teaches me things all the time, he is 9. He is at once a sage and wise influence and a harsh and severe critic. I trust him and I trust his judgment. OK so far so good and I could go on but let's leave it at the fact that because we have the luxury of spending time together we can also discuss and examine things in a wider and more longer-term context than the hour or so coaching session. It is not just the 10 mins after a session or the day after a game. We have extended access to each other. We are able to discuss over a period of time: what went well, what went badly, what we need to do and what we need to stop doing: as players, we do this not just as father and son but as a member of the team and as a coach of that team.
The team I am involved with has three qualified coaches. This includes two RFU Level 2 and a RFU Level 1 coach. We have a young (late teens) club team player who can demonstrate most parts with understanding and insight. We have an aspiring coach of school-age who also gives great value. Two of the coaching squad still play at club level the other two played at club level for many years. Unsurprisingly many of the parents played which lends a very strong acceptance of the ethos and spirit of fair play that is the foundation of rugby union and without which it could not survive.
Aside from being involved with a team run by experienced coaches and experienced players three of us are experienced dads whose kids are in the team. Moving through the age grades with the same team is central to age grade club coaching. It is a system that has been proven to work well. There are Premiership Rugby clubs with fathers running the team and their sons on the field. The reason I believe coaching your own children is more than a nod back to, and, an affectionate look back at the amateur foundations and origins of rugby union, is that it is an essential component to maintaining and developing the core values that our sport seeks to deliver.
Allow the players to learn from playing you will, as a coach, allow yourself an opportunity to learn from your players. Amongst the things you will learn is how to deliver coaching. This requires both trust and intimacy, the kind of trust and intimacy that exists between parent and child. The dynamics of father/mother/child are based on a level trust that allows the parent to admit to learning from the child. We have all done it, we have all thought it is amazing how much our kids know and how smart they are and we have all learnt from them. Good coaching is a similar two-way street, we learn from our kids how to best give them ways of improving their performance. Just as this applies to life it applies to sport and once we learn from our kids how to coach them we become more able to share this knowledge with those other kids that belong to other parents.
Not every parent will want to coach, it does demand a big commitment of energy and time, and doing it does not make you a better person or parent. Andy and Katia who responded to this post prior to me both elucidate the positives of coaching your own kids - "We often devise the following weekends training plan between us - that’s my offer to him in return for him understanding I can’t spend all my time with him.", "I still supplement her sessions at the club with mini sessions at home ... The system has worked immensely well so far". My experience tells me that parents make good coaches. I learnt a hell of a lot from my dad, I may have taught him a bit in return.

Avg: 4.8 / 5 (1votes)

I got into coaching 5 years because my daughter did Gymnastics and I kept getting asked to help by the head coach. To be honest it has been one of the hardest things that I have ever done, Gymnastics in particular is a difficult sport as it is all about acheiving perfection. There have been tears and anger and accusations of never giving praise or things being good enough. You are always careful not to over praise and find you don't do it enough, it is dreadfully hard to walk that line and be fair to everyone.

On the other hand although one of the hardest, it has also been one of the best things I have ever done. At the age of 43 I started learning about a sport in which I had never competed or had much interest in, I learnt new technical skills about how we move and what affects us, I am learning new skills about how I affect others and how to get the best from people, but most of all I learnt about what it means to be a parent and want to help your child and hold their hand through all their troubles but know the best thing for them is to work it out themselves or even worse let someone else help them and you be the bad one.

It has taught me a lot about my daughter and our relationship and she is probably closer to me than her mum when she has a problem, but Most of all being a parent coach has taught me the most about myself and how I help and hinder in equal measure. I've also found a love for coaching that has taken me beyond being concerned for her and wanting to help everyone achieve the skills they get from working hard and having fun in their chosen sport.

Without parent coaches we wouldn't have local clubs as over two thirds of our clubs coaches have children there currently or used to. Most of the others are ex-gymnasts whose parents coach. This does makes thing's friendly and rather being in a clique, we even had 2 new parents join us last year and are always looking for more.

Long live the parent coach.

Avg: 0 / 5 (0votes)

Many valid comments above. I really enjoy it. I only coach them in one sport and they play many, so I get plenty of chance to watch also. I've learnt so much from it. I had already coached for years before, but coaching them has taught me so much. I can honestly say that coaching 4-9 year olds teaches you more than you teach them!

Avg: 0 / 5 (0votes)