Awhile back someone asked me how I keep coming up with subject matter for the good ol’ North Shore Winter Club blog. While it’s true that it’s been three years and counting this September, I’ve never felt like I’ve had a shortage of ideas.
My audience is just so durned inspiring.
But whenever I do feel slightly stuck, the one element I keep coming back to is the similarities between parenting and coaching. If you’re a long-term reader then you know this well.
And for a lot of you pulling double duty as coaches and parents, you know what I’m talking about.
Coaching is about building a culture in your team. Parenting? Same thing.
Coaching sports is built on success on and off the field of play. For parents, home base is the field of play, and we’re all doing our best to do our best when we have home-ice advantage.
The best part of parenting and coaching is that also its biggest problem: there are so many ways to do it. Are you strict? Demanding? Merciful? Accepting? Relentless? Truth be told, I’d wager most of you adopt each one of these traits often - probably on a daily basis. But figuratively beating your children over the head with your parenting skills probably doesn’t produce the consistent results you’re after. Same goes for coaching.
So, while this list is primarily directed at coaches instructing their way through soccer, hockey, tennis, swimming, tae kwon do, or any other sport where you can leave at the end of the day and not worry about who forget to do the dishes, I’m willing to bet parents everywhere could borrow a thing or two as well.
Coaches are guilty of focusing on the tactics and the x’s and o’s, particularly in hockey, far too often. I did it just today, actually. It’s where the idea for this article came from! After talking to one of my players for 5 minutes about hockey hockey hockey and the upcoming season, I caught myself and started asking about summer school. And you know what? It was refreshing.
Summer school is a big hurdle that university players commit to so they can focus on hockey during the season, but that doesn’t mean it’s a piece of cake. Who wants to sit in a classroom in the middle of the summer? But it’s a sacrifice made to get an edge and make the days to come a bit easier, and that’s something any coach or parent has all the time in the world for.
Empathy. It’s a thing. What are your players going through? What are your kids going through? Ask ‘em.
Parents might attack me for the absurdity of this one, but I’m not a parent, so I can only speak as a coach. Want your players to work hard? Work hard. Want them to come to the rink serious and ready to learn? Put on your gameface. Want a light atmosphere where players feel free to be creative as well as competitive? Be the energy you wish to see.
If there’s one thing athletes, students, and human beings see through more than anything its disingenuousness. Yes that’s a word. I looked it up!
It means there’s no point in being fake. Be yourself, take an interest in their personal lives away from the field of play, and you’ll have a much easier time convincing them of the virtues of back checking.
Or cleaning out the dishwasher.