The Perils of Coaching Your Daughter

For those of you who dare to coach your own kid(s) in whatever sport they play or played know that coaching your own child is the greatest joy yet most treacherous journey any parent can take. I liken it to walking on a narrow path on a cliff high above the ocean. The views are spectacular but one false step and boom...down the cliff you tumble! 

Perhaps I am being over dramatic but the dynamics between the parent/coach and child is usually both a blessing and a curse (particularly with daddy-daughter), but it doesn't have to be if you follow these steps:

1. Treat Her Like Every Other Player - Meaning don't expect more from her and be harsher in your assessment of her performance, or be easier on her because she's your daughter. Her teammates are watching how you treat her (as are the other parents)...believe me! Your daughter is likely self-conscious that her mom or dad is the coach, so be careful to treat her like the rest of the players. Don't favor her in the lineup unless she deserves it. It took me about 7 years to figure this one out. 

2. Remember Why You Coach - As a single parent the time I spent coaching my daughter over eight years was always a privilege and an opportunity to share my passion with her while watching her play the game I love up close. As a parent it was so cool to watch her successes from the bucket (when she pitched) or in the 3rd base coaches box (when she hit). Years later your daughter, hopefully, will remember and be proud that her dad or mom volunteered to be her coach and that she learned many life lessons from "her coach."
My darling daughter and I in '09

3. Leave It at the Field - The minute you walk off the diamond with your daughter you need to turn back into mom or dad. The 24/7 coach as dad or mom can cause friction in the relationship with your daughter so beware. Enjoy being her coach for every minute you are on the field with her, but enjoy even more being her parent when the practice or game is over.

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4. Communicate - Too often when I coached my daughter I made a few poorly timed comments during the game that upset her, causing us to to be silent in the car on the way home. Please don't let that be you. Know that your verbal and non-verbal communications deeply affect your daughter. If she is younger she may not know how to cope with her feelings of sadness or anger with you (as all kids desperately want to please their parents). If she is older she'll just be pissed off at you! Make it a point to communicate with one another; explain the coach-daughter dynamic with her and encourage her to let you know when you cross the line. If you messed up, apologize to her. I was one of the worst offenders ever and once my daughter starting call me on my actions our relationship as coach and daughter improved dramatically! The bottom line is for her to enjoy the game.

5. Employ "Big Picture" Thinking - The chances are you will not be coach your daughter forever, so please don't do anything to spoil the game for her. I see countless parents at the travel level who simply can't let go once they stop coaching. They continue to coach their daughters from behind the backstop or dugout. They are always lurking somewhere, second guessing her coach and poisoning the well with the other parents. Please don't let that be you. I know first hand how difficult it is to be on the other side of the fence watching someone else coach my daughter. At first I felt like a caged lion as I paced back and forth during each game. Finally I realized that it was a positive for her to have someone other than me coach her, for better or for worse. In truth my daughter enjoyed the game more once I stopped coaching her.

6. Have Fun - As always your role as coach will be what you make of it. If you expect perfection from 12 year olds, including your daughter, you will be in a state of perpetual frustration as a coach. Remember, no matter what age your daughter is...she is likely not going to play the game the same way you did, and may not make the same decisions you would on the field. Allow her to make mistakes so that she can learn from them. Encourage her and smile often, for all too soon these special days of coaching your daughter will be gone. Do all you can to make the memories for her and you great ones.

Now on the positive side the coach's daughter usually learns to understand the game better from being around "the coach" all the time. Most coaches daughters tend to be students of the game and their game reflects that.

The experience you can have coaching your child can be an outrageously positive and successful one, bringing you two closer together. However, on the flip side it can be a source of constant aggravation and frustration for both of you, damaging the relationship in the process. Following these five steps will help your outcome to be a more positive one.

As you walk the slippery slope of coaching your daughter always make decisions that put the team first. Your daughter will feel more comfortable and likely perform better if mom or dad just looks like "coach." The best evidence of this is when parents or coaches from the other team have no clue who the coach's daughter is!

The foundation for every athlete's success is confidence, isn't it? I've created a surefire way for your athlete to both and maintain "rock solid" sports confidence, with tools that will allow her to overcome any softball adversity and play her best when it matters most. It's called The Sports Confidence Blueprint Program. Check it out!

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