(Adapted for fencing with kind permission of Coach Mac https://www.basketballforcoaches.com/parents-coaching-sidelines/)
Put yourself in your child’s shoes for a minute…
Before the match and during breaks, the coach will talk to the fencer or fencers (if it’s a team event) about strategy and may give individual fencers specific instructions to give them or the team the best chance of success.
And then as soon as a fencer gets back on the piste, parents start screaming out conflicting instructions that go against that strategy.
This leaves the child in a tricky situation…
• Who should they listen to?
• Which adult do they choose to make happy?
• Which adult do they choose to disappoint?
Fencers are forced to choose.
And since they don’t want to get yelled at in the car on the way home, most young fencers will listen to their parents and go against the coaches strategy.
This will lead to poor individual or team performance.
Check out this video by Kevin Eastman where he teaches parents how difficult it is to have many different instructions being shouted at you.
Learning how to make smart decisions through experience is crucial for athlete development.
To give specific examples of fencing decisions, this includes:
When a parent screams out instructions from the side of the piste, they take away the learning opportunity from the fencer.
When adults are constantly feeding fencers this “do this, do that” information, fencers can quickly start to rely on their input instead of thinking for themselves.
Instead, parents should sit back and allow their child to make decisions.
Which involves allowing your child to make mistakes.
Every fencer must know that they’re not going to be criticised when their decisions do result in mistakes.
If a fencer knows they’re going to be yelled at each time they lose a hit or miss an attack, their anxiety levels will shoot through the roof.
There’s no way they’ll be able to make decisions and then learn from their mistakes in that environment.
If a coach is willing to volunteer their time to coach your son or daughter at a competition, please let them do the coaching.
A parent screaming out instructions from the side of the piste just makes their role even more difficult than it already is.
If you absolutely need to voice your opinion all competition, wait a few months, get qualified and registered and put your hand up to be the club competition coach next season!
Coaching youth sports takes up a large chunk of time and to do it well is much harder than it looks.
Appreciate and respect those willing to devote their time and effort.
When coaching from the side-lines, some parents do more than scream out instructions to the players on the team…
There are many who decide to yell at referees, too.
Here are a few of the main negatives to doing this:
When your child notices you complaining to the referee, they’ll feel like they’re allowed to do the same thing.
Instead, teach them to immediately move onto the next hit.
With a bunch of angry adults yelling in their direction, you can guarantee that the game’s officiating will quickly deteriorate.
Parents (and coaches) must understand that a referee will never change their decision just because you angrily let them know your opinion from the side-lines.
Lead by example and keep your thoughts on the officiating inside your head.
(Quoted and adapted with kind permission of Coach Mac https://www.basketballforcoaches.com/parents-coaching-sidelines/)
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