Your child wants to get into throwing. Finally, your dream is coming true. Your kid can develop into one of the nation’s best throwers. Proudly standing next to the circle, you can guide them through all of their technical development, all of their strength development, and are by their side as they conquer the world of throws.
But is it really that simple? Is it really that easy to develop a thrower within a parent/child relationship? Surely, there are many roadblocks standing in front of the parent/child dream. What can we expect and look for as we develop the athletic relationship?
No Coach?!?!?! No Problem!
For many parents, being able to coach their child is a dream. They have done a good job raising their child, they love their kid tremendously and obviously they know what is best for their development. This is evident in many sports. Think about the crazy soccer parents standing by the pitch, screaming instructions for their ball hawk. Or the football dad’s who insist their kid MUST be in the all-star quarterback on their mighty-mites football team in FIRST grade. In Pennsylvania, it’s even common to see parents sitting next to a wrestling mat, screaming instructions to their kid while they ignore the demands of their educated coach!
The same can be said of many throwers and their parents. An intelligent throws coach can be difficult to find at times and jumping in as the parent/coach can be quite intriguing. Look at the success Sam Mattis and his father had in high school and college! But is everyone as calm and level headed as Marlon Mattis? There are multiple KEYS behind finding success as a parent/coach, let’s dive deep into the topic!
1. Establish a TRAINING STRUCTURE
Parents love to give their kid 20 different cues during training. Every single throw they have a new cue, a new feeling, a new goal. This is never a positive situation. Instead, the thrower struggles to find any consistent movement, they struggle to find any rhythm and they end up getting frustrated. This frustration leads to angst and anger toward their parents and all of a sudden, an argument breaks out!
Make sure as a parent that you establish 1-2 key cues with 1-2 MAJOR goals. Let your kid understand that today is a technical day of throwing or that maybe today is the day you will push for a big distance. After establishing the theme for the day and the cues, let them engage with their throws and develop their feelings for the day. It’s important to NOT GET MAD at your child. They are learning, they are struggling, they are vulnerable. Athletes learn the most when they are struggling, this is when they are most vulnerable, allow them to engage with this part of the puzzle and execute their technique over multiple throws!
2. Let Your Athlete Focus!
This feeds off the first key element. Minimizing cues and establishing a structure to training enables the athlete to have a system to focus upon. When they find their structure, now they know where to put their energy to improve as an athlete!
It’s important to remember that there is a very strong emotional connection between a parent and their child. It can be difficult to separate this during a training session but it is paramount for the adult to recognize and try to remove themselves from the “parenting” position for the time being. This is when the parent needs to do a very good job in their instructional delivery. Try to avoid being overly critical, instead be more positive and supportive with some critical analysis sprinkled in. Over time, this will lead to better development of the parent/athlete relationship. Try to avoid pressuring but instead be positive, educate them on the movement, educate them on the system, and develop them from a big picture perspective! Don’t let the hatred happen!
3. Know When to Coach
This also rides from the first key element. Parents are parents. They care about their kid, they don’t like to see them struggle. They don’t want to see them deal with crazy stress...BUT, it’s important to remember that struggle and stress lead to proper development. Oftentimes, we see parents trying to coach their throwers in the middle of the throw, while their kid is standing just next to the ring, while their kid is out in the sector. Every possible moment they have, they try to coach their thrower. We have even seen parents giving cues WHILE THE KID IS ACTUALLY THROWING!!!!
This is not conducive for learning, it is not conducive for growing, nor is it conducive for a positive relationship. It’s important to back off as a parent. It’s important to back off as a coach. This gives the athlete time to process the feeling, the cues, the goals, and takes the pressure off of them. Now they have time to focus on the tasks and engage with progressive improvement.
4. Failure Creates Growth
This is often the most difficult lesson a parental coach struggles with. It’s important to note that almost all of the failure of the parent/athlete relationship lies on the parent. The parent over coaches, they hold their hand, and they struggle to let their child fail.
The Roman Stoic Seneca was quoted as saying,
“Difficulties strengthen the mind just as labor strengthens the body.”
This concept is key for parents to comprehend growth. That means it is ok for your kid to have bad practices, it’s ok for them to fail in competition or in training...BUT, it is how YOU as a PARENT responds. The parent/coach needs to respond positively in a manner of aiding them to learn. Guide the athlete with simple questions to help them recognize what they can learn from the situation. This is much more effective than judging the athlete and being upset with their performance or training. Instead, take a step back and figure out where all parties involved can improve!
Overcoming hardship can often be the biggest catalyst for growth. This doesn’t mean that as the parent/coach you need to walk them through hardship. Instead, let the athlete/child deal with the struggle, let them work their way through the difficult time, and learn how they can optimize their handling of a difficult situation. Teach them mechanisms later on to handle and improve from these situations and that will make the relationship incredible!
At Some Point...Stop Coaching Them!
The ultimate goal needs to be that you as the parent do stop coaching your child. You find someone you trust, you find a successful system, you find a successful and positive environment and you engage with that training. You give the reins to someone with more experience, more expertise, and more time to develop and assist your kid in training. When that happens, you can step back and provide positive parental support as they continue to develop through intrinsic AND extrinsic struggles.
This is a long process that can be successful but recognizing the big picture goals is extremely important. Make sure you have a structured training system. Don’t throw darts in the dark, instead learn about the sport and educate your child about the system. This will help them focus and develop and mature as an athlete! Know when to coach and when to back off, let them deal with struggle internally, let them fail, let them be upset and watch how they react and THEN help them learn from the hardship. This is when the child will mature and become a better athlete as well!
"Our aim is to provide concise and concrete education and training on the throws, helping coaches and athletes learn what they need to do to succeed and become champions."
- Dane and Trevor