Parents Involvement With Coaching on the Field (Good or Bad)
One would think that Tiger Woods success and recent slow down would put to rest the hum of those who think parents should butt out of their children’s sports training. His father influence in the past and his lack of influence recently, due to his death, shows this clearly. Yes many will of course say, “yes parents need to drive them to the practices and games, and must be supportive and show some commitment both financial and time wise.” Yet many never go further these days. Like with home schooling it isn’t fashionable to state parents should and must take a more active role in their kids training.
There are of course bad coaches and bad sport parents. There are not more good coaches and fewer good parents, but roughly the same amount. I have not heard any argument or seen any evidence that has convinced me otherwise. Anyone who is a coach is likely to be more wise in the field in which they coach, yes, but they do not know someone’s son better than the parents, they know not his health better than the parents, nor do they know how to get them to focus better and how to behave better. Nor do coaches know how late the boy was up last night, or how long they were playing other sports at school all week long. So even a weaker skilled in sport’s parent can often rise is effectiveness with the details, verses the one size fits all approach a coach must take to keep the training going in a smooth direction.
The key to an effective system is to use parents and assistant coaches, for the betterment of the team and coaching, and to be clear on the roles each wants to give & take. There are going to be a mix of commitment levels for parents & personnel, as they may be busy in different ways. A wise coach will offer parents a wide assortment of choices from no involvement, to mild commitment, all the way up to as much as one can offer. The key is a parent must be clear on what level they can regularly give, and give notice of any changes so as to allow coaches to know what they are dealing with. To freeze out parents all together or let them do the thankless tasks, when they obviously want more, is a waste of bodies and minds, and worse will bring a drop out of the child in your program as the parents are likely totally necessary for the child to keep up with the sports activities.
We see authority driven systems everywhere these days, for example in education, where the state teaches morality and things that were often left to the parents in the past.
The rotational system in manufacturing can be used in sports instructional training too. Having new parents/instructors take up a basic skill training drill, after being given the ropes on what needs to be done, is the way to go. Once they get the hang of what’s involved, they can be moved on to a new skill or drill, with the higher ups being able to do it all and can thus fill in when someone is missing or leaves. Higher ups can also gauge not only the children, but also the instructors on how they train or even how they teach other instructors. Slowly such involved people can learn everything if they keep it up, which keeps them interested and admiring of what you as coach are doing. This allows the head coaches to get involved with the kids on an individual bases or to teach the higher level skills after the opening training is done for the day. This way you have persons all learning skills, with the best being the ones that can both teach to children and to other possible instructors.
You are also reinforcing parental roles as the coach is giving respect to the parents, and so the children will see their parents in a new light. Backing each other up has benefits both ways. New people must prove what they can do and in some ways do more work, as they must learn how to teach new skills and do new drills.
You want the most skilled persons with the most freehand time, with the most free eye time and able to jump in to specialize with an individual person in any position. Such freedom of movement may appear to be too free to some, as a coach is not hands on with every drill, but it is not free in the thinking and in the watching, as you are keeping the orchestra going in the right way. With horse training this is common place, as it is with sports teams the higher up you go.
The causal parents taking on a serious commitment will either not turn up anymore, if they see they must work at it to be involved, or they will see things are in good hands and need to no longer take part, as they know their child is getting solid skills and attitude training.
You, as coach, will be left with seriously committed people that will be able to fit in where need be the longer they are with you, and as stated most importantly to you will be able to step in at key points to instruct, specialize with each child or person, and just think about what you are seeing to give speeches on the right issues (or design drills that fix the common problems). All this is only capable with the good management of people and not micromanaging everything.
Parents who are involved in such ways are going to keep their boys focused at home on all things better, and on of course baseball issues, as they will see what is weak on the practice field, where weakness are clearer.
The good parents will rise and the busy, lazy and casual parents will depart from the field quicker and more often. This is much better than one trick ponies lines like “parents should butt out” or “coaches must lead 24/7 on everything.”
Communication, if constructive, is always welcome and thin skins, angry impatient perfectionists and loud mouths that only want to complain will be met head on and sent packing someplace that will be better for the team. This will be done by the coordination of group effort where everyone is learning new skills, taking suggestions, making mistakes and being involved.
Such nonconstructive persons will change their ways or leave. Most importantly the boys will learn how to do leadership right by watching it firsthand being done every day at practice. This they can use in any sport, but most importantly all throughout their lives.