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Just as children have, parents have undoubtedly changed compared to previous generations. Parents are now held responsible for their child’s behaviour and performance 24/7.
Parents feel they are evaluated in public on their parenting particularly if their child is involved in a goal oriented activity. They can see their child’s errors and behaviour as a reflection on their parenting skills. Of course they are not, but that is how many parents feel.
They are now tied into the success of their child and feel that they have a moral obligation to involve themselves in any part of their child’s development. A culture has been created that if they don’t fight for their child then nobody else will.
A generation ago parents would drop their children at a sports session, go and do their weekly chores and then collect them at the end of the session.
This does not mean that they never watched matches or took an interest but they didn’t micro-manage and analyse every training session and dissect them to their bare bones.
An almost ‘groupie’ style culture has enveloped children’s sport from watching training through to even watching the warm up before matches.
Parents would never go into a classroom and analyse every question in a maths lesson. Of course if there was a problem in a certain area they have every right to be inquisitive and address it but they would not be present the whole time during the process.
How many children feel humiliated week in and week out by their parent’s actions at a sports session?
Coaches have mixed views on whether they like or dislike having parents attend training sessions (share your views by leaving a comment below). On a personal note after 20 years of coaching it personally doesn’t bother me if parents are watching however what I would say is that there is a definite impact on the dynamic of the session when they are present.
On the whole coaches would like to be left alone. To them parental interference is seen as a damning assessment of their coaching as the trust has not been completely passed on to them.
If parents are too involved at training, the child will look for guidance and reassurance from the sideline as opposed to focussing and listening to the coach.
Some children when parents are too close feel unnecessary pressure even to the point that they struggle to engage with being coached as they see this as being told off and look to see how their parents are reacting to what is simply a coach doing their job.
Too much involvement from the side dilutes the coaches message and influence and many parents remarks are often ill-timed and sometimes can be inaccurate.
Parents must also understand the body language that they are portraying on the sidelines. Arms folded, stern faced, dramatic flings of the arms will heap unnecessary pressure on the child as the child begins to wonder what the aftermath of the session is going to be in the car on the way home.
In the longer term by their behaviour the parent may be limiting the independence and creativity of their child, both valuable traits in successful long term athletic development.
If you must be present at your child’s training session then parents need to stay a reasonable distance away to show that they are supporting whilst ensuring that their body language suggests they are very relaxed about how things are going even if on occasions they may not feel that way.
Parents are allowed to be involved and that is their right but it is striking the balance on the correct level of involvement. If they trust the coaching,and the culture of the organisation suits them then perhaps they may feel more inclined to leave the session as opposed to helicopter parenting.
Parents certainly need to be informed and engaged on what clubs and coaches are doing as positive reinforcement from them can allow the child to gain the most from their sporting experience.
There is no data to suggest that the more training sessions that a parent watches or is involved in has any correlation to the sporting success of the child in the longer term.
On matchday the coaching should be already done, guidance and tactical changes should be made by the coach but parents need to understand the main part of the instruction/interaction process has already been done in the training sessions. Match day is certainly not a time for parents to be too involved.
So I guess the million dollar question the next time you are heading to another training session is ‘should I stay or should I go?’
How do you feel about parents watching every session? What would you like to see as coaches?If you are happy what level of involvement do parents watching your sessions have? How close do they get to the proceedings? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.
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Coaches do need to engage with parents in regard to general issues, but parents being too close to sessions is very disruptive. This comment from your blog sums it up - "If parents are too involved at training, the child will look for guidance and reassurance from the sideline as opposed to focussing and listening to the coach."
I personally do not mind parents attending archery sessions. Sometimes they are a positive influence, other times they can be downright dangerous. I do enjoy it when parents are watching and congratulate their kids on doing well. The kids are happy to show off their skills with a bow, I have to admit that I enjoy competitive parents getting lower scores than their kids .. I had been coaching two young boys, concentrating on getting their hands and arms in the right positions to hold the bow, draw the string and release the string in a basic way but in a much safer way and method than they had been when they came to me. I had them holding the riser properly and with their arm in the right position. I had to leave the sports hall for ten minutes and left the family under the supervision of an experienced archer.When I returned the archer was assisting #1 and the father was busily undoing all my previous work with #2. As I was explaining to the parents why I didn't allow parents to handle my kit, the assisting archer took #2 to the shooting line and ... #2 managed to somehow get the string caught between his wrist and the front of the arm guard (bracer) he had been wearing resulting in an ice pack on his wrist. (We insist that all children use a full length arm guard for safety reasons ) Probably holding the riser like dad said to !!!!One of the first things parents get now is a full extended safety briefing, not just on the fire exits, emergency actions, this is now a standard briefing. They have to stay in the area set aside for spectators and they also get a parents code of practice, including a welcome to the club letter detailing how we expect parents to behave!!!I don't know of any parent that hasn't appreciated the information. Now if they want to help they can join the club as a non;-shooting member and help with the club.
This post reminds me of one of my favourite videos...talking about parents coaching from the standshttps://youtu.be/Dki7xQXmYLk
In general though, I dont coach this age group, but I am on the other side of the fence as my eldest (8) plays football, tennis and has now started rugby. I will admit that this sort of thing has made me think. I do consciously try to make an effort to stay in the background. For football there is really nowhere else to go and we have to be by them. But we try to stand back a bit and give the team some space, chat amongst ourselves. The coaches were really good as well. They have laid out the sort of behaviour that they want from us as parents. Indicated what we can and can not do during games for example. They have also done a good job of letting us know what they are trying to do with the kids - their focuses etc... - so we are aware of what they are trying to do. As parents, I think that we can sometimes get caught up in the product rather than the process. A player makes a "mistake" and all we see is that rather than what they were trying to do. So letting us know what they are working on helps us to understand what the kids are trying to do. Saying that though - one thing I have never really thought of. And I guess it is the most obvious one. What does my lad think? What does he want? I had better go ask him!!
There are a few things I need to add to this. Our Club now has a Parent/ Club Agreement that lays out the expected behavior of parents attending the club and also events outside the club, their behavior at events reflects on the club even if they aren't competing for the club. My son plays for a cricket team and as they are all younger kids we have an indoor winter league. It's great fun but can get really intense at times. We have had people stay and watch that were just passing the spectators area and say how exciting it is. At some of the "close call" matches, like two balls to bowl and four runs ,..Well the parents are on their feet shouting and clapping .. The point is all these parents from both teams are encouraging the kids, after the match, at lunch breaks, at the presentation these same parents talk about both teams players who played well. It is a really family atmosphere, kids from the teams talk to each other about the missed balls, the fumbled catches the good catches . Hopefully we are going to get one of the winter matches filmed live.
Personally I'm not too concerned if parents stay. We have a code of conduct for parents as well as the children. As long as parents adhere to the code there should be no problems. However, parents can sometime get too eager to get personally involved and this can potentially hinder development of their child. Ideally communication can resolve this but not always. I've found it useful then to discuss with parents the benefits of a the process based approach to training rather than the concentration on results. If this doesn't work then it may be best to take a break for a period.
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