Ježdík’s reflection: Coaching parents from the sideline confuses children

Many parents watch their children’s games. They sit or stand nervously around the pitch, mostly on the sidelines, and many of them play two roles: a parent and a coach. What emerges from their matches during matches is often partly shocking, often fundamentally irrelevant, and also misleading. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging or cheering on kids or a team, but many parents tend to go way beyond that. We parents only have a few years in our children’s lives where we can sit and watch them play, and yet we act like their match is the World Cup final.

From my experience as a coach and a parent, I am convinced that parent coaching from the sideline is one of the most destructive habits in children and youth sport. It rarely brings better short-term and long-term results, it severely limits the child’s development and love of play.

Many times I have asked parents who have trained their children intensively and consistently what their goal is. When I overcame the first wave built on the impulsive shield “what do you care, take care of yourself and your children” or “if you don’t mind, sit somewhere else”, their desire was to help children get a professional contract or enter. future abroad. Recently, the vision of a university scholarship in a university abroad has been added to it.

Few were willing to admit that the very habit of leading a child around the field like a puppet would result in his child adapting to the bigger and better competition he would face during adolescence in the future. Additionally, when their habit is spread to other teammates, the development of the whole team can be crippled.

Trying to coach your kids with the help of the sideline has little or no bearing on their future decisions on the playing field. Czech kids are no less talented than their counterparts from other countries, but they lag considerably behind in IQ for soccer, hockey, basketball, and volleyball.

In one of my articles in Coach magazine, I wrote about coaches of kids telling players what to do every second of every game, and thus, perhaps sometimes unknowingly, hurting them. Responsibility for decision-making is taken away from the children and transferred to the coach. The greatest danger is that this pattern can bring multiple wins in a given season, but in the long run is disastrous for athlete development. Parents who coach their children from the sidelines fall into the same category, but with the added value of wanting their child to be a stellar professional player. In practice, this means that the instructions given by the parents are usually even worse.

Coaches must train and parents remain parents. Good coaches for children and young people have a long-term development plan in advance, the pillars of which allow players to improve over the course of the season. An integral part is a mix of training and matches. If a parent wants to know more about a development plan, this is a great opportunity to speak to a coach. Even then, it is good that all participants “read the same page of the book”. Unfortunately, many parents are much more interested in the immediate results than in the long-term development of the child.

What I mean by that is that a little 9-year-old doesn’t have to be Patrik Schick, Steph Curry, David Pastrňák or Katka Elhotová right away. However, they can be his role models. The child needs time to experience and learn to understand the game. The best way to achieve this is simply the game itself, ideally without the presence of an adult. In an environment where the child feels safe and free, where he can try different solutions and where he is allowed to make mistakes. Playing football, basketball or hockey on a small field is one of the best ways to do this. No intense sideline coaching. This will allow children to discover new solutions, keep them happier with play and make a significant contribution to the development of decision-making processes.

Unfortunately, in the sports environment of our children, it is more and more appreciated to win at all costs. Young children need to score a lot of successful goals, baskets or smashes, because only the best shooter is interested. God forbid, we want to learn how to defend, dribble and pass well. To “accelerate” their development, parents tell them from the touchline during the game what to do, when to do it, where to do it and how to do it.

But that only confuses the children. Instead of learning to read and respond to play and learning by trial and error, they constantly turn their heads sideways to their parents so their eyes ask what to do. And the worst option? If the coach and parents yell at them from the sidelines and often give conflicting instructions. Does this really sound like a good learning and improvement environment?

Let the kids experiment and figure out what works and what doesn’t. Most parents have never played the sport at the highest level, nor are they the best coaches of children. They just “practice and practice” for now and hope their shouts of instruction will help the children avoid “failing” in their choice of a solution to the situation on the playground, without thinking to long-term development.

Let children develop their personality and build their own identity. We do not make robots. Success in children’s sports isn’t just measured by wins and losses and goals scored. Actual changes are much more difficult to quantify. It is a serious mistake to think that when parents coach a child from the sideline, children will automatically improve in decision-making, technical skills, vision on the pitch, reading the game and, at the future will lead them to more victories and a dream professional. Contract.

Children’s sports belong to children, not to adults. The spaces around the sidelines often become a place of primitivism not only in behavior, but also in the complete inability to sit down and enjoy the day. It is very difficult for an adult to enjoy watching their children play sports when they are extremely emotionally drawn to the game.

I don’t believe we can’t sit, watch and relax! The more aggressive and out of control parents are, the less likely children are to enjoy the game. The less safe and free children feel when playing, the more likely they are to finish before peeking behind their backs. professional sports. So that grand plan of getting a job contract or a scholarship to a foreign school often starts to crumble before the child enters adolescence.

I have met and seen many parents who do not belong to this group. They help their children cultivate the love and passion for sport and the values ​​that will accompany them throughout their lives. However, it seems to me that there are even fewer. We all need to help create an environment in which our children feel safe and free.

All you have to do is change your behavior, invest in your own effort to do so, put your hands off the workout, and even just ask your child if they enjoyed the workout or the game. Instead of cursing him for what he didn’t do, what he should have done differently, or over-analyzing his performance. Rather than just praising the victory, applaud the efforts and improvements.

Jukka Jalonen on his career, Finnish values ​​and the demands of young people

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