Using sport and working in partnership to equip children with skills for life

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I have recently translated an article about the ideal collaboration of the parents and coaches. I do recommend you to read the full article, it`s a long read but well worth it. Lots of situations explained about the needs of children among circumstances their sport could provide. Below is a summary of the article written by Paul Gamble, the full article was published on WWPIS blog.


The parent-coach relationship has a major influence on the young athlete’s experience. Nobody is more invested in the success and happiness of the young athlete than their parents. Our task should be to harness and help direct these energies to favourably impact the young athlete’s trajectory, and allow them to enjoy the significant ancillary benefits of participating in youth sport.

Jaded coaches are often quick to distance themselves from parents. I have even heard reports of a youth soccer coach who instructed his players they would be dropped to the bench if they spoke with their parents once they reported for duty with the team on match day. Rather than excluding parents we should seek to enlist the parent as a partner in the endeavour. Attempts should be made to engage them in the process. We need to equip parents with the tools to assist with the young athlete’s preparation, and with the knowledge to understand when to step back and allow them to be independent. It is however crucial to establish expectations and clear boundaries from the outset. There should be explicit agreements made on matters such as channels for communication and protocol for the practice and competition environment.

The parent-coach partnership is also a reciprocal relationship. The coach can be a key ally for the parent. My own experience is that one of the aspects that parents of young athletes I work with enjoy is that they listen to me; and what I am telling their child is often repeating what they themselves have tried to convey but met with resistance. This is particularly the case with teenagers. The coach can thereby provide a conduit for communicating messages that parents endorse.

Coaches and parents share a role in providing guidance to assist the process of helping the young athlete to acquire the necessary elements of emotional intelligence. Parents likewise play an integral role in providing support and direction when the young athlete inevitably makes mistakes.

One important aspects that parents and coaches can work together to instill in their athletes is the importance of being a good team-mate (or training partner), and upholding high standards of conduct towards others, including opponents and officials. Importantly, this will impact not only the athlete themselves, but also those around them.

Finally, both coach and parent are crucial in supporting and reinforcing a long term perspective. It is vital that both coaches and parents do not fall under the thrall of chasing short term wins, to the detriment of the long term mission. Both parties share a great responsibility to be the grown ups in the room.


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