10 tips for coaching your own kids

Many adults get into youth soccer coaching because their own child is in the team, but it’s a situation that comes with its own challenges. Here are ten top tips to help you cope:

Don’t favour them

Don’t build your team around your child. They might be one of the more talented and intelligent members of the team but resist the temptation to make them the main striker, captain, penalty-taker and free-kick specialist all rolled into one.

Don’t forget them

If you’ve taken the time to manage a team with one of your children in it, there’s a strong possibility they could be among the better players, but while you can’t favour them, don’t go too far the other way and leave them with no responsibilities.

Don’t get angry with them

Don’t vent your frustrations on your child publicly. It’s so much easier to do this to your own offspring rather than other kids because, unless you have the perfect child, you will have told them off in public before. But you mustn’t do this at training or at matches, as it will make them feel like they are being singled out unfairly.

Talk to them

Do talk to your child after games and training and specifically focus on the football. Let them know why you have made some of the decisions you have and remind them that you have to be fair to the team as a whole and treat them simply as another team member during soccer sessions.

Don’t tell them too much

Don’t let your child become more than just another player. They may be party to some of your tactics and formations before anyone else, but make sure they don’t start imparting this to the rest of the team and certainly don’t talk to them about the other players. Resist the temptation to turn them into your assistant manager.

Don’t let soccer take over

Do make sure that football doesn’t take over your relationship with your child. It’s easy to get very involved in youth football and you are bound to talk footy a fair bit with your child as a result but make an effort to compartmentalise it so you still have a normal parent/child relationship outside of football.

Don’t push too hard

Don’t push your child too hard. It’s great when everyone can see they’re a good player because their inclusion in the team justifies itself but, if they have a bad run of form, gently encourage them, do a bit of one-on-one work or rest them for a while. Getting on their case could put them off for good.

Encourage other activities

Do encourage your child to play for other teams and to participate in different sports. Not only does this keep their fitness levels up (as long as it’s not overdone) but they will be subject to a different coaching perspective and may even come back with a greater appreciation of the job you are doing.

Make sure they are happy

Don’t forget why you got involved in the first place. Your child may not be the only or the main reason why you are a youth soccer coach any more, but it will have been the first reason you got involved. Make sure your child is comfortable with your involvement generally.

Take a step back

Do remember that everyone else in your team is someone else’s child and therefore observed by someone through rose-tinted glasses. Every so often take a step back and ask yourself the question, are you being as fair and as even-handed as you possibly can to everyone in your team, including your child.

Paul Ince: “don’t play favourites”

Former Blackpool manager Paul Ince is one of thousands of parents to have coached their own child, and like so many, he admits he had to be overly harsh on his son Tom, now with Crystal Palace, to prove he was being even-handed.
“I had to show more aggression to him and get on his back to show there was no favouritism,” said Paul Ince. “I told him I’d have to dig him out a few times. You think you’re treating him the same as everyone else, but he is your son.”

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