Let me tell you something, Coach!

By Eric Berry

Somewhere along the line we’ve lost our minds. I’ve coached for 29 years in a variety of different capacities, and in different sports. I have witnessed first-hand the degradation of the coach/parent relationship. I am no expert on behavioral science, I do not consider myself an “expert” coach in each in every facet of coaching. I have flaws, all coaches have flaws. But, it appears as a society we have given a green light to question methodology in coaching. We’ve become such “helicopter parents” that we are focused solely on our own kid-which isn’t helping.

I’ve been guilty of it. I’m not just pointing fingers here, at all. I wish I had an answer how to change it. I wonder if it’s a byproduct of trying too hard to be a great parent. You know, if we’re just so singular focused on the well-being of our own kid we will turn them into a great person in the long run, right? Wrong. I think in my peer group(and this will tick people off but get over it) we have some parents that are just too much. We don’t just let the coach, coach. We try too hard to judge, second guess, and comfort our kids in their failures. Kids gotta fail. They need to face up to their flaws, and how they improve their flaws.

Further, kids need to learn to coexist with adults. They need to learn how to ask questions that are respectful and well thought out. I will heed my own advice on this going forward in life. If my kid has a problem, I’m going to let him work it out with the coach. Shouldn’t we all do this? I remember one time having a conversation with a now retired physical education teacher. We were conversing about the eventual firing of one of our high school coaches. He argued that unless the coach had done something morally or ethically wrong, how could they get fired? It made me think a little more deeply on the subject. If the kids are having fun, competitive, and are not in harm’s way-what gives? I get it, we are in a different world, we want to win. We are in the information era. Everyone knows something. We read it on the internet. We’ve seen the second guessing, the bragging, the photos of Little Johnny on his mom’s Facebook page when he was in tee ball with the caption that reads, “Johnny went 2 for 3 today with a good throw”! Seriously, the kid is 6. We’re trying too hard to show how much we love them. Just let it play out.

You know what’s missing? Tough love. You know who provides tough love? A coach. A coach who has 12 players feelings to worry about, not just one. As a parent we think of one kid. Our kid. Not all parents are like this. At some point we all have been like this, but, we need to back off. This will be hard for me too. Hell, I second guess Brad Stevens personnel decisions! Looks like he is doing fine without me, thank you very much.

In that vein we are all hypocrites when it comes to tough love. I’ve screamed at more kids than I can count. Not a personal attack but sometimes to do whatever I could to motivate them. I’m going to have to get over someone else hollering at my kid. I think I’ll just tell myself this, “Self, let the kid handle it, if it isn’t personal, he’ll be stronger in the long run”. Someday he’ll have a boss that’s could be a real jerk, will he quit the team, or will he work through it? Getting a pay check may mean he can’t quit. Taking a tongue lashing from a coach may mean it’s good for the team!

So, the next time we wonder why the coach did this or that, let’s take a step back, wait 24 hours, and if you still have a question ask the coach in a respectful manner. No coach wants to lose. No coach wants his players to fail. Whatever they did, they did it for a reason. Ask yourself if your kid is learning how to be a quality teammate. If he is, let it play out.

Let’s get back to the days when we walked both ways, uphill, in the blinding snow. Let’s let the coach, coach.