Hank Zona turns it all the way up to 11, with Part IV of his three-part series, and explains why,all things considered, he’d rather be coaching.
After talking for a few article lengths (in Part I, Part II, and Part III) about many of the negative “grown-up” behavior often seen at youth sporting events, whether it is a parent coaching or watching, I wanted to wrap things up with my own personal reasons for my clear preference:
I prefer coaching.
1. It is more rewarding to coach kids than stand and watch with parents.
Not even a question here, and nothing against the vast majority of parents I have crossed paths with from coaching their kids. Many of those parents were great folks.But there is something really special about discussing college and career plans with kids you coach or have coached, some you first had on your roster when they were shortly out of diapers.
2. The things kids saying during a game are typically more funny and insightful than the things the parents are saying at the same time watching.
I am taking nothing away from a parent who does contribute something funny and insightful from the sideline. There have been many well timed and well delivered lines over the years, some providing support or a break in tension.
But it has been great to see so many kids develop not just as athletes but as students, and even as citizens of the world. That they are in school for most of the months out of any given year I have coached them is probably relevant. Their perspective is fresh and developing, often new, not as jaded. As they get older and continue to play and advance in their respective sports, they gain confidence and more of a comfort level, so their commentary is relaxed and in the moment, even if they are focused on competing. And, perhaps most importantly, they aren’t ever talking about real estate prices or the local school board election.
3. Coaching is better if you are a mental multi-tasker while watching a game.
A friend who coaches said he has had to adjust to watching his daughter’s elite lacrosse team play. He is a certified coach and also gifted at looking at most sporting events situationally. For an active sports mind, having a field or court full of players is often easier than sitting focusing primarily on one. For many, there can ultimately be a law of diminishing returns though depending on the level you are coaching and if there is no one there to even help keep score, and its not so bad to take a break from the mental juggling.
4. Kids drink and swear less than parents at a game.
Not that some kids don’t have potty mouths, but parents get carried away more often, much more. And yes, sometimes they drink. Take it from me who works in a wine-related field and is generally more aware on this subject than many — sometimes it’s more drinking than many realize, and does more to heighten poor behavior than many realize too. By the way, the kids know.
5. I coach as an homage to my father.
There it is, one of my intrinsic rewards. My father coached me and my brother. He coached a lot of other kids for many years before we were born. I know because they used to come around to see him and they looked like grown men to me. I also saw how they came by because he really talked with them and listened. I learned as the priest, a close friend of his for many years, eulogized him by saying he made sure in a community where kids could go either way, he tried to make sure they went the right way in life. Being involved with kids was the most important community service one could perform. I saw it as a legacy he left me.
6. I’d rather be a first decision maker rather than a second guesser.
Sideline second guessing is almost as popular as whatever sport is being observed. We are all geniuses in hindsight, well, at least we ought to be. One season while not coaching, the second guessing was so rampant I would get up and walk away to be away from it because I felt for the coaches, even though they were busy in the dugout and couldn’t hear any of it. When a parent finally asked me why I kept getting up and walking away, I told them I had a tough time sitting still, and wanted to get a better view than from the stands. Which leads me to…
7. It’s a better view, of the game, and of life.
Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Jim Larrison
Jump to Part I of Parents Behaving Badly, to get Hank’s take on the 5 Bad Parenting Attitudes in Youth Sports.
Jump to Part II of Parents Behaving Badly, to get Hank’s take on the Questions Parents Whose Kids Play Youth Sports Should Be Asking Themselves.
Jump to Part III of Parents Behaving Badly, to get Hank’s advice for Parents Who Also Are Coaches.
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