A truly exciting experience for most sports parents is watching their child compete on the field. There’s a sense of pride in watching as their son or daughter creates memories that will last a lifetime.
But when you’re the coach of your child’s team, that excitement needs to be reined in. For you and your child to fully enjoy the game, you need to leave the fandom in the stands.
Former professional football player Deion Sanders has been in this exact situation. The Hall of Famer discusses how to handle coaching kin on the football field in these Pro Tips.
SEPARATING THE ROLES OF PARENT AND COACH
Being a parent and a coach can lead to a conflict of interest. You don’t want to show favoritism, and you don’t want your child thinking the standard is different for them.
This makes separating the two roles important. The relationship you have with your child during practice and games needs to be different from the one you share at home. It’s important to avoid what Sanders calls “dad ball.”
“You [have to] maintain your understanding that you’re a coach and not the dad,” he says. “Because there is a conflict if you ever misconstrue those two.”
There are multiple ways you can communicate with your child when it’s time to transform from parent to play caller. A great time to do this is during pre-game warmups.
Sanders says he and his son have a routine before games that can help launch this transition. During warmups, the two walk to the end zone to set their expectations prior to the contest.
“We talk about ‘Are you alright? Are you ready? Are you prepared?’,” Sanders says. “And by the time we get to the end zone and we turn back around, I say, ‘Now by the time we get back there, I’m no longer your dad. I’m your coach. Now let’s go.’ ”
Setting these parameters can help you share the excitement of competition with your child. Use these Pro Tips to help you get the most out of your dual role as parent and coach to best support your athlete.
Get more insight from Sanders and Pro Tips. Find out why he says it’s important to study an entire roster over just one player. Plus, learn what qualities the former all-pro looks for in a leader.