5 Reasons Why Coaching Your Own Kid Stinks

I have been coaching basketball for 8 years now and I do not hold back the fact that I LOVE coaching and I LOVE my team, but its not always as easy as it seems!  It started out all innocent and fun…during Elle’s first season of recreational basketball she was the only girl on the team and the neanderthals coaching the team paid absolutely no attention to her, or many of the other kids for that fact.  She learned very little about dribbling or the rules of the game – things first year players should learn!  So, after that season I decided that I knew way more about basketball than those guys and could at least communicate with the children without grunting…and 8 years later I’ve coached recreational basketball, travel teams of all ages, a middle school team, a junior varsity team and have had the varsity team at our local high school for the last 4 years.

img_124842995410275136335999.jpegI love coaching young athletes, I love seeing them grow and mature, not only in their basketball skill but as young women!  For many years I gave up coaching my own kid in travel so that I could coach the high school teams.  I missed travel and middle school games in which Elle was playing so that  I could be there for practices for my team to advance our program.  Some nights I hated it, but my pout didn’t last too long, as I loved being in the gym with my players, having faith that Elle was surrounded by coaches that loved her in the same way and our family cheering for her in my place.

Now though, she has finally made it to my roster and I have come to the realization that, at least at this level, it stinks coaching your own kid!  You see I think there is a common misconception that being the coach’s kid is a perk…wrong!  We are talking about a girl that has washed more stinky uniforms than she can count, has endured cold nights on a silent bus while Mom stews in the front seat after a loss (even though she wasn’t old enough to play in that particular game) and as a 5th grader even got recruited to ensure the varsity players were running the sprints they were to run as a punishment when Mom stormed out of the gym to collect herself in the locker-room!  Being a coach’s kid is NOT always fun! And now, shes on the roster!

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Here are the Top 5 Reasons Coaching Your Own Kid Stinks:

  1. I Am Always Second Guessing Myself.  When dealing with Elle I am constantly asking myself if I am talking to her and thinking about her in my “mom” voice or in my “coach” voice.  I second guess every decision I make – and it makes me feel horrible!  I have coached this team for 3 seasons without worry about what others think and say and now I am a mess!
  2. When A Player Or Parent Is Mad At Me – They Take It Out On Her!  When this happens I want to kick into “momma bear” mode and tear apart the offender -it just cant happen though, and Elle has to learn to deal with it!
  3. I Miss Big Moments And Plays!  Parents live for this right?  That moment when your kids does something so spectacular in a game that they can talk about on the way home and at work tomorrow!  Not me, I am focused on everyone’s big moments, and often miss hers – or they become a blur that I have to go back and watch on game film after another parent mentions it to me! My bragging to co-workers and peers is about my whole team!
  4. I Am Still Relying On Her For The Dirty Jobs! Yep, she is still washing her (now teammates) smelly uniforms and helping to clean up the gym long after practice is over.  She was recently accused of getting more gym time than others…well she does alright, vacuuming the locker-room or cleaning trash out of lockers left by her teammates.
  5.  I Miss Just Being Mom!  While I am more than thankful for the time we get together both at home and in the gym…Its difficult to console her after a loss when I have just told the team that I am disappointed in their performance and they need to work harder!  I miss the opportunity to just love on my kid!  I am vigilant though about reminding her that this is a game and no matter her performance (and what I say about it in the locker-room) I love her beyond measure and always will!  I sure hope she is listening…

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She’s Got Skills – How Female Athletes Prepare for Life Beyond the Gym

As we come to the conclusion of Christina’s first club volleyball season I find myself feeling very blessed for the amazing experience she had while a member of this team.  The players, coaches and parents were all extremely positive and as a result Christina grew as a person and athlete.  We are looking forward to her school season more than ever now!  As I reminisce about this spring and the fun we have had watching her play I am reminded of the important skills that female athletes possess that prepare them for life beyond the gym or field.

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time-management-3Its tough being a woman in this world!  We have careers, run households, raise children, volunteer and remain active in schools and our communities and do all this while trying to maintain a sense of self and reach our individual goals!  Doesn’t that sound exhausting?!?

When considering my own experiences as an athlete and now raising daughters and coaching other female athletes, I have come to understand how the skills female athletes cultivate on the volleyball court or other athletic arena can be the foundation of skills they will need to be productive and successful business-women, mothers and leaders of the future!

Teamwork – The ability to work with other women.  I have heard people in workplaces say time and time again that women do not work well together.  I find this statement utterly ridiculous!!  Women, just like men, are smart, creative and have the ability to work well with co-workers, regardless of their gender.  I do think though that an athlete understands the importance of a close connection with those in which she must rely upon to accomplish her goals.  Teamwork makes the dream work, baby!  And who better to understand the importance of that statement than a female athlete that has been battle tested and put through what seemed like unimaginable feats with her teammates.

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The ability to sacrifice for the good of others.  An athlete understands sacrifice – plain and simple.  She understands how to put her body on the line for her teammates that she loves.  She understands that achieving a goal may require her to sacrifice free time, social groups, physical appearance and a perfect manicure!  Being a woman in today’s society is no different – we sacrifice to grow our careers, we sacrifice for our families and we  give of ourselves for our communities.  Currently, I am so far beyond the need for a haircut that I can consider a new longer hairstyle; all because I have not had a free moment lately to hit the salon.  The demands upon my free time for my family, home,  law practice, basketball team, and now this blog are tremendous!  It seems like a norm though, as an athlete I was always giving up something for basketball or my teammates.  I learned that if I loved the game and my teammates it really wasn’t a sacrifice at all, but rather a labor of love and I never thought twice about it!

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We discovered just before we were set to leave for Christina’s last volleyball tournament that she was having pain in her knee that had become more than annoying!  We took her to an orthopedist who explained that her hamstrings were tight causing the pain on the inside of her knee.  Otherwise, she was cleared to play – as she could – which to any athlete means…”Yay! I’m cleared to play!”  And she did.  We could see her fighting through pain during games and applying ice and ibuprofen to aid in reducing inflammation in her knee between.  She was a trooper!  And while I never advocate for a parent to push a child to play if he or she is in pain; I understood the life lesson that this situation provided our 17 year old daughter.  Sometimes, life is tough and it hurts (either physically or emotionally) but we must push through for those that we love and in order to achieve our goals.  Had Christina chosen not to play last weekend (and the choice was hers), her team would have been VERY short-handed and may have had to drop out of the tournament.  Her decision to play through the pain and sacrifice her body showed maturity and love for her teammates.

The importance of positive communication.  I give a speech at the beginning of basketball season each year about positive communication.  I remind my players that one phrase, communicated with different inflection and body language could have polar opposite effects on the person hearing the statement.  My example:  “Come on ladies, you’ve got this!” versus “Come ooon ladies!” (insert eye roll and foot stomp).  One of those statements is encouraging to your teammates and co-workers while the other is condescending and dismissive.  Its a very similar statement that could change the entire momentum of the game or your relationship with your teammates.

As mothers, communication with our families is really no different.  A question to Husband…”Have you done the dishes today?” is nothing more than a question unless I am adding body language and emphasis on words that indicate my annoyance with him (Why haven’t you done the dishes today?)  Positive communication is so vital to any relationship – marital, familial, career-related or friendships and it is an often over-looked trait that needs to be properly developed…the power of positive communication!  Being part of a team requires CONSTANT communication with ones teammates and on successful teams that communication is always positive.  That is not to say that situations do not arise that require a leader to step up and energize their team by challenging them to preform better or work harder, but an effective leader has the ability to energize her team without tearing them down!

The understanding that improvement and achievement of goals requires time and dedication.  Most athletes understand that putting in minimal time and effort is not enough to truly achieve goals.  Successful teams contain athletes than have a desire to put in the TIME and WORK required to grow, improve and exceed their goals!  In the same respect, growth and success do not happen over-night.  A female athlete understand that both require her to be dedicated to her craft and to spend her free time in the gym or weight-room rather than at the mall or texting with friends

wp-15232857102221808897985.jpgAs adults, we come to understand that any goal we want to achieve will require us to give of our time and be dedicated to our cause.  Whether our focus is on advancing our career, raising healthy, happy and loving kids, fighting for a cause that we support or a little bit of all three we have to understand that advancement in ANY of these avenues WILL require that we give of our time and energy to see it through!  Why do you think us ladies NEVER have free time!!

Go with the flow and accept the challenge set before you.  When I made a plan to attend law school after I completed my undergraduate education I NEVER in my wildest dreams planned to do so with a brand new baby girl along for the ride!  BUT, that is exactly what happened.  I began my first year of law school 8 months pregnant and scared to death of motherhood  – who had time to stress about starting law school!  I had to dig deep within myself and recall times in which I had to play a position I was unfamiliar with or guard a player bigger and stronger than me.  I find every situation to be better if you can turn it into a basketball analogy!  So, I loaded up my new born baby and hit the books!  Now that she is 13 and I have been in the practice of law for many years, I hardly remember those hard times.  In fact, I laugh at the fact that while my classmates were freaking out over Contracts class our first year, I was just going with the flow and wondering if I had bought diapers or was out of baby formula!

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I am sure I could go on and on about the positive attributes athletics can provide to young women (and men) but I will wrap it up for today!  I loved every moment of being a female athlete and I am so happy that my daughters have had the ability to be a part of teams and garner these same positive experiences that will help to shape them into the young women that seem to be appearing before my very eyes!

Love Them More – An Approach to Program Building in Youth and High School Sports

pexels-photo-356319.jpegIts the new year and the heart of basketball season which means our backyard is empty while we spend vast amounts of our time in a gym!  Our coaching staff has been putting a lot of thought into program building and the never-ending pursuit of fundamental players with the attitude we desire in the program.  The first step…determining what we deem are the core values of our program and what are the most important fundamentals an athlete needs to possess to play at a high school level.  The challenge for our program in recent years is having athletes that were just that – athletes!  We have, as a whole, lacked athleticism both physically and mentally and an advanced understanding of the game.  My job as a coach…. fix this going forward and quickly!!

First, in dealing with my current players we began back in the summer developing the idea of this team as their “family”.  We had cookouts in my backyard, we participated in team-building activities and topped off our summer with a back-to-school trip to Pigeon Forge and Dollywood.  We laughed, rode rides and learned to put up tents in the rain!  Overall, not a bad start to the school year and season.  The next step: getting my players to believe in themselves the way that I believe in them.  We may be missing some fundamentals as a team but overall they are a great group of kids with a ton of heart and potential both as basketball players and fantastic individuals!  I am convinced that confidence will come if I just love them more – they will come to believe in themselves and their abilities as athletes and leaders!

The second step in the process is to ensure that our younger players as well as future players in this program understand the expectations of the program and continually work on their individual, fundamental skills that will allow them to grow as an athlete and person.  When I took over the high school program 3 years ago I was the 3rd varsity coach in as many years and the team was coming off a bit of a disappointing season, given the talent that we had on the team.  We lacked continuity in every way.  We lacked core values and team concept as well as overall basic basketball skills.  The advantage that my young players now have is that most of them have played together since they were very young, most of them actually played recreational basketball or on a travel team for me!  I know exactly what basic skills they have been taught, what team expectations they have been held to in the past and their parents understand this as well.  Therefore, I have come to the understanding that the only way this program is going to develop in the positive direction that I  desire is for myself and coaching staff to be more involved in the development of players at a young age.

20140222_154746489038885.jpgWhen my current younger players were just learning to dribble in those first years on rec or travel teams we absolutely LOVED the game, by “we” I mean me and the kids both!  It was so much fun seeing them progress and learn.  We played games that focused on specific skills and were consistently positive with them and in the process they developed into hard-working and focused players that strive to work on their fundamentals each day as the game becomes more advanced and their bodies change and adapt.  I loved every moment of coaching in those early years and likewise love each and every one of those kids!  The kids, they love us and the game too!  They are usually the first in the gym, more likely to do their summer workouts and have developed friendships with each other that has developed into a sisterhood.  Now, that is not to say that they haven’t struggled.  They are still young in their tenure as high school athletes, they have dealt with a faster-paced game, learning to be leaders, adapting to new players as well as a few injuries; but I fully believe that those early memories and exposure to this sport will carry them and will become a guidepost as they grow as athletes and fabulous young women!

Our program goal for the future:  have more exposure with the youth athletes in our community.  Make sure in their formative years of play they are being taught basic fundamentals in a positive way that builds confidence, a desire to focus and improve, and the core ethical and moral values that we require in the high school program.  Its also about changing the mindset of the parents at these young ages.  In the formative years (and always) players need twice as much practice as games; so parents, you have to get your kids there!  Also, don’t just sit back and expect everyone else to teach your kid about hard work.  Encourage them and praise them for hustle and hard work, not just scoring at games but also great effort at practice, being a good teammate and paying attention to detail in their game and that of their team.  A final note on parents, Play With Them! Especially when they are young, they love for you to get out on the floor or in the driveway with them; not to instruct them on a drill or shooting technique but in a game of “Horse” or “Gotcha”!  Even as they get older, young players love to “beat” you, so lace up your Nikes and get out there and play with them!