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Heather Flaherty '14
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Coaching from the Sidelines
Your New Role As a College Parent: From Caretaking to Coaching
You may not have thought of yourself as a coach before, but as the parent of a college student, your new role involves less caretaking and more coaching of your student as he works to gain independence and responsibility. Many of the world's greatest athletes credit their success to the influence of their coaches. They recognize that, while they may have certain abilities, they need the teaching, insight, and training that a quality coach can provide.
Because this role of coach is new to many of us, it might help us to gain some inspiration from some of the world's most outstanding coaches. They may have been coaching athletes, but much of their advice rings true for college parents as well.
"Probably my best quality as a coach is that I ask a lot of challenging questions and let the person come up with the answer." - Phil Dixon - Director, Hoops Skool
We often think of the coach as the person with all of the answers - all of the knowledge to be imparted to the players. Maybe, as coaches, we need to try harder to ask the right questions rather than providing the right answers. Of course, if we're going to "let the person come up with the answer", we're going to have to live with the answer. Even, sometimes, if we don't agree.
"Make sure that team members know they are working with you, not for you." - John Wooden - Basketball Coach
As parents of college students, we want the best for our sons and daughters. But we often need to remind ourselves that the goals for which our sons and daughters strive must be their goals. College students need an opportunity to explore the world and their own interests. We need to be there to support and offer feedback, but students should not be working for our goals for them. We need to allow them to find their own driving force.
"I never criticize a player until they are first convinced of my unconditional confidence in their abilities." - John Robinson - Football Coach
How often, in our eagerness to encourage our students to strive for bigger and better things, do we forget to make sure that they know we believe - not just in them, but in their abilities? It's not enough that we have confidence in their abilities, they need to be convinced of our confidence. We need to tell them, and tell them again, and tell them again, that we know they are capable. With that foundation, we can go ahead and point them toward ways to use those abilities more productively.
"Overcoaching is the worst thing you can do to a player." - Dean Smith - College Basketball Coach
If coaching is good, can there ever be too much of a good thing? Apparently. Sometimes, taking a step back and allowing the player's natural instinct to come through is just what's needed. Sometimes, taking a step back and allowing the advice to sink in is just what's needed. Sometimes, just getting out of the way and letting the player fumble the ball, may be the lesson that's needed. Knowing how much is enough is important.
"Coaching is a profession of love. You can't coach people unless you love them." - Eddie Robinson - College Football Coach
Become your student's "coach of the year"!