Tuesday, September 23, 2008

too hot

Something happened at the soccer fields last weekend, and I am not a first-hand eye witness, so take this with a grain of salt. I hope I do not misrepresent anyone in my retelling of the scenario. Saturday was "We Honor the Game" day in our town. All of the parents were encouraged to attend outdoor clinics from the Positive Coaching Alliance. It was hot. Very hot. My son and I would both have headaches before we could retreat to our comfy air-conditioned home. The weather was not the only thing hot, however. A small huddle formed in the parking lot, where a discussion was under way between people who were hot under the collar.

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Most parents on our sidelines do not create problems, but for the exceptions, it's easier to prevent out-of-control situations than respond to them. If someone is losing perspective, how can the other parents help reel them back in?

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I interviewed someone who was closer to the situation, and learned that there was an altercation between a set of parents and a coach. Long story short, the parents didn't like the way he coached the game, and the coach allegedly scolded somebody else's kid.

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I see two issues here that should be handled separately. I have been a soccer parent longer than I've been a coach. Telling which kid to stand where is one thing, but I completely understand how a parent would want to defend their child from a grown up, even their coach. I do not know what this man said to the child, but if the child any measure of harshness, it would have been more appropriate to defer such admonition to the child's God-given parents, since they were only a few yards away. Coaches should not vent their tempers on those children under their temporary care.

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If your child got barked (yelled) at, how would you handle it?

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The second issue has to do with coaching from the wrong sideline. It's a "back seat driver" kind of issue. None of these volunteer coaches deserves to get grief from those parents who did not sacrifice time and money, and their poor, aging bodies to be a coach.

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I literally have to bandage my knees three times a week so that I can control pain from bad knees. But I coach anyway, because I think it's worth it to be able to help these kids grow healthy. They benefit from the calisthenics plus good sportsmanship or life-lessons. Throw in a second-guessing critic and the mix gets sour. If the parent wants to coach, we could use more coaches and assistant coaches, but if a person is not a coach, they should cheer and encourage but they should not coach!

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The kids suffer from disruptive parents who react in a bad way. There must be a way to process our feelings without compromising dignity, a way that honors the game. When we think the coach makes a mistake, remember that he (or she) is dealing with a TEAM of players and they all are affected by our behavior. The only experts out there are the certified referees, and in our case, they're usually thirteen year-olds.

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Our capable soccer club board members will handle the real live situation, but I still think this would be a healthy thing to mull over in the blogosphere. Now that you've heard my own rant... What do you think?

17 comments:

hennhouse said...

I've got players and coaches in my house and our philosophy is that we're all actually on the same team. My Tim coaches Isaac's team and I'm not sure I've ever heard him bark at any of the kids--even his own. We also have a partner-type relationship with Isaiah's coach. If Isaiah does something that warrants being barked at, then we will not interfere. Otherwise, I'm a mama bear. That said, I've also never seen/heard Isaiah's coach bark at any of the kids. If they aren't following the game plan--they get taken out.

On another related note, what do you think of parents paying their kids for goals? Isaac is eight. His team was up by five or so goals on Sunday and the husband (also the coach) moved the better players to the back field. The other team scored. After the little boy scored he ran down the spectator sideline, found his parents, and yelled that he wanted his money. I was appalled.

dot said...

I'm thankful my kids are grown and I don't have to deal with this!

NaNcY said...

i don't know what it is but the game of soccer just brings out a lot of frustration in the fans. it must have something to do with no hands and a lot of kicking.

mommanator said...

my grsnds dont play soccer, but as you know are in sports- we feel if the kiddos are being chastised they probably deserve it. Esp the younger one!
Barking is another thing, kindly remind these coaches they are people Not dogs!

Llama Momma said...

Thankfully, our coach doesn't bark or yell. But...he does discipline those boys at times. (Doing laps, pushups, etc.)

Absolutely necessary to keep control of a team full of six-year old boys.

If the coach DID bark, or in my opinion discipline inappropriately, I would still support the coach 100% in front of my child. Later, I would address the issue privately and let him know how I would prefer to handle that kind of thing in the future.

I think it's important that kids learn to respect authority.

(And we're not talking about some gross abuse of power here...just a coach yelling at a kid.)

Anonymous said...

Being a momma of 2 in football, I know that there are times that my kids deserve being corrected, and times that they don't, but the coach only sees when my kid reacts to another kid's continued abuse (touching, teasing, etc). I always try to look at it from the eyes of the coach. What did the coach actually see? I also remind myself that the coach has to look after the entire TEAM, not just one child. I also like the way the coach disaplines....go run x# of laps, or do x# situp or pushups.
As for sideline coaching, our athletic association has a simple rule....let the coaches coach, if you disagree with the coaching, then talk to the coach privately. The coaches are always willing to talk, but not during the game and not in front of the kids. They talk alot about town pride, and that the kids and adults represent the town. I remember one game that a parent was talking loudly about refs not calling fouls, and the head coach made a blanket statement to the entire crowd "Be respectful and be Mt Airy". That one comment quieted the entire crowd. I also know that the kids can be penalized, as the refs can call a unsportsmenship foul on the team if the parents become too disrespectful to the coachs or refs. It is sad sad world when parents can not control themselves at a little league game. Come on people, this is little league, let the kids have FUN!!!!
Shannon
(mommanator's #2)

Craver Vii said...

Rewards: My opinion is that paying kids for goals is kinda like tipping kids for eating all their dessert. Playing and scoring should be the reward, but if another parent wants to do that, I probably won't interfere. Plus, I too have done it before... we used to chant "Milkshake" over and over again when our friend's son got in scoring position, because his mom said she'd take him to McDonalds if he scored a goal. I think I know better now, though.

Craver Vii said...

Discipline: Parents will differ in what kind of disciplinary measures they'll allow others to use for their children. A more sensitive child can be crushed by harsh words. As a coach, I NEVER yell at my team. One child last season used foul language. I was assistant coach, and I threatened that I would have a talk with his parents. He stopped.

Personally, I don't use laps as a punishment. When I was able, I LOVED running!! My goal as a coach is NOT to make kids sit still and behave. Nature abhors a vacuum. I want them active. As much as possible, I use rowdiness or misbehaving as a cue that I am not keeping them busy enough. Recently, one child was just too much for me, and I thought I could not keep up with him. With a big grin, I suggested he had a lot more energy than we knew what to do with and asked him to run around to burn some of that energy. When he came back to join our activities, still smiling I asked him, "Do you feel better now?"

When they start to get chatty, I lower my voice. A lot! I will not use volume to compete with them. They pick up on that cue very well, and one child will turn to the other and "shush" him or her.

Conversely, I shout praises or celebratory remarks. YES!... Let the whole world know that these champs are doing something well!

Craver Vii said...

Advice: This is perhaps the trickiest situation of all, because some of the problem stems from judging another person's intentions. I will try to simplify it. When the adults are on the sidelines, the cheering and encouragements come from the fans' side, and the coaching comes from the coach's side. I am open to ideas from my fellow parents, but it is more harmful than helpful to shout conflicting instructions from two places.

If they are humble enough, coaches should take private criticism well, but if a parent disagrees with how the children are being coached, they might be a good candidate to step in next season and do a better job. That is not a threat. I don't coach as a punishent for doing something bad... I coach because I enjoy these kids and what soccer is doing for them.

It's not difficult to become a coach. I offered to help as an assistant coach in the spring, not knowing a thing, except that I might be tying shoelaces and retrieving balls. It didn't take long for me to check out library books, gather info from the internet and observe the former head coach before I knew that I wanted to do the same thing.

Oh, and you don't have to be super-athletic or a skilled soccer player! One of our coaches is an amputee, and he does a fine job.

Otherwise, just let the coach do the coaching.

preacherman said...

Thanks for sharing this with us.
I enjoyed reading.
Hope you have a great week!

preacherman said...

Thanks for sharing this with us.
I enjoyed reading.
Hope you have a great week!

Martin Stickland said...

wise words from a wise old cookie!

Oh .. I forgot you are younger than me.

A wise young cookie then.

Louise said...

I'm a "tough mom." If my children are with other adults in charge (teachers, coaches, club leaders, whatever), they are to pay attention and do what those people say. Other than school, I am usually present at these things, and if my child look my way, I signal for them to watch their teacher/coach, listen and PAY ATTENTION.

Teachers/coaches are always "softer" than me. If my daughter falls apart over something and there is no damage, I tell her to swallow the tears and keep practicing. It will get better with practice, and part of that is LISTENING and PAYING ATTENTION to the coach!

If I completely disagreed with a coach, I would handle it privately. It is completely inappropriate to make a big deal publicly unless the teacher/coach behaved inappropriately. For me, inappropriately would be screaming at a child for no reason, ridiculing a child, insulting a child, causing harm or danger or sexually inappropriate behavior. Everything else is fine, and I should stay out of it. If a teacher/coach correct my child, that is his/her job, and I appreciate it. My child is not perfect, and I have to say out loud that no one else's is, either. If we cannot take constructive criticism for ourselves or our children, we should lock ourselves in our houses and become hermits. Do we want to be better people or just have our way?

100% agree that if parents do not like the way it is being done, they should volunteer to help. As someone who volunteers all over my child's world, I know it would be nice to have a few more people lighten the load. And it's also educational for the volunteer. Nothing is worse than a back-seat driver or sidelines coach.

Anonymous said...

It can be tough being a coach and the good ones are gold and I have a lot of respect for them. My niece coached a woman's basket ball team and she was darned good at it and her 'kids' loved her. However, there were parents who continuously gave her a bad time and gave her little thanks for the job, and yelled at their kids for not doing well on the court. My niece was a young woman who got yelled at a lot of times by the parents whose kids were part of her team; maybe they saw her as a kid herself. She was in her early 20s, was a darned good basketball player at college and knew what she was doing and often had to stand her ground and not back down when people got in her face. I don't know how she managed to keep that calm under pressure. Whatever, these people gave her no respect. I used to roll my eyes at some of the stories. Organized sports is a great thing but when parents start lambasting kids it can get pretty darned nasty, it brings out the dark side. I wish people would realize that this is a game that should be enjoyed by all. There were times when my jaw dropped at how parents behaved on the sidelines. When our kids were playing soccer, two women actually got into a hair-pulling fight and I can tell you, these women drove beamers. Not that that has anything to do with things. Like someone said here, I'm just glad my kids are all grown up and we don't have to deal with organized sport any more.

L.L. Barkat said...

I just refrain from having my kids play sports (isn't that the easy way out? :)

The other one said...

tis been too long brother.......hope you and your family are well !!!

Cuckoo said...

I wanted to comment on this post, don't know how I missed out.

Thanks for sharing this. It is tough to be a good parent. You are a gem of a person. :-)