Coaching Parenting At Its Best

By Candace Moody



If you’re around young athletes, you may be struck by their manners and respectful demeanor. It’s not surprising; athletes have at least one strong authority figure in their lives – their coach. As a result, even if they don’t get discipline at home, they get it on the playing field. Here’s what parents can learn from coaching. Coaching is parenting at its best.

Lesson One: Develop rules and be firm about them. Coaches maintain strict discipline and consider participation a privilege, not a right. Student athletes must maintain good grades, attend practices, work hard, and follow orders without question. Only athletes who display discipline are allowed to play – no matter how much talent they have or how badly they want to.

Lesson Two: Link hard work to results. Talent alone is not enough to win games or improve performance. Young athletes learn the connection between hard work and rewards; hours of tedious practice help make average players good and good players great. The coach also establishes that she determines whether the athlete plays, partly on how well the athlete performs in practice.

Lesson Three: Identify and stop bad behavior immediately – with no exceptions. On the playing field, when a player makes a mistake or breaks a rule, the whistle blows. Impartial judges determine what happened and what the consequences should be; often, the entire team is penalized for the bad behavior of an individual. There are no exceptions, no mitigating circumstances. As a result, very few players flout the rules.

Lesson Four: Cheer like crazy, but be tough when needed. Manly coaches are not afraid to hug their players and cry for joy when the team wins, but they also don’t hesitate to chew the team out the next day. Coaches know how to say, “We won tonight, but we won’t win next week if we don’t shore up the defense.” Parents may not believe that stern discipline and exuberant love can coexist. It can, and does, every day on game fields.

Lesson Five: What you learn on the field carries over to the rest of your life. Coaches expect the discipline and character they build to carry over into an athlete’s personal life. It’s not simply wrong to cheat at your sport; it’s wrong to cheat, period. Society expects more from athletes; that’s why we’re sad when an athlete that shows grace and discipline on the field turns out to be unethical in real life.

Sports at all levels should fight hard to maintain discipline and decorum on the playing field, and parents should stop trying to intervene in discipline or refereeing at games. Organized sports are perhaps the last bastion of our traditional values. When these young athletes enter the job market, their discipline, hard work, respect, and team play will make them more successful than their peers – if we let the coaches coach.


candace1-150x150About the Author
Candace Moody is a writer and workforce professional based in Jacksonville, Florida. Her background includes over 15 years of experience in Human Resources, training, recruiting, and assessment, and she is frequently quoted in the Jacksonville media on labor market issues. She was awarded an M.B.A. from Jacksonville University in 2001. Her column and features have appeared in the (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union, the Atlanta Journal Constitution and 904 Magazine.