Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching


Why you have to be a Jekyll and Hyde coach sometimes by David Clarke

How competitive are you? Do you punch the air when your team scores or openly despair when you concede a soft try?

It is not bad to be emotionally involved in the game. But where do you draw the line?

Well, don’t let anyone tell you where to draw the line. You need to decide for yourself. There is nothing worse than some “do-gooder” telling you about the moral rights and wrongs of competition and how to rugby train your players.

Listen to the evidence and decide for yourself.

Stop.

There is one thing to remember.

You can shout and ball at your players, or alternatively, treat them with kid gloves. Offer them riches for performance, or offer them just kind words of praise. But don’t compromise on one thing.
Don’t treat children as mini-adults. The rules of engagement change for youngster. You have to coach and encourage them differently because they won’t respond in the long run to adult-orientated coaching methods.

Society has changed. Children have different expectations to 20 years ago and so have parents, unfortunately.

It is called the “Tiger Woods Syndrome”. What has Tiger Woods got to do with art of designing a rugby drill? Tiger, nothing. His father, on the other hand, has inspired millions of parents to push their child into organised sport earlier than we used to when we were young. And drill them competitively in the pursuit of greatness.

So, how can I say this is bad when I coach my own son’s under 8s team. Simply because you can still control the amount of pressure by reducing the competitive nature of “matches”, and concentrate on fun.

Last weekend, I witnessed the subtle nature of competitive parenting. Two coaches involved in the opposition were using “gamesmanship” to influence the game. They knew it, but persisted. It was embarrassing and sets the wrong example to all those involved.
We can’t always get the balance right, but when comes to children we can try to keep to a moral code.

Here is a code of sorts from Frank Smoll, a University of Washington psychology professor and co-author of “Sports and Your Child: A 50 Minute Guide for Parents.”

• Reward your child whether the team wins or loses.
• If you have a complaint or concern, don’t raise it in the middle of a game.
• Applaud when either team makes a good play.
• Praise effort.
• Respect the referee’s calls.
• Talk to your neighbour during games (don’t get too caught up in scores or statistics)..
• Ask your child, ‘Was it fun?’ before ‘Did you win?’

For adults, you can be the monstrous Mr Hyde if you want, but for children, be the good doctor Jekyll. A coach and a parent are not separate in this code.

Dan, Better Rugby Coaching Editor

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Don’t treat children as mini-adults. The rules of engagement change for youngster. We can’t always get the balance right, but when comes to children we can try to keep to a moral code. Reward your child whether the team wins or loses. Ask your child, ‘Was it fun?’ before ‘Did you win?’ This article teaches a great lesson to always be positive with children but not over-bearing!

Comment by T-Moe

As a recently qualified level 1 coach and parent of an U8 I can relate to this. Dan you are spot on, Fun Fun Fun, and then winning. Don’t forget the kids do care if they win, or rather they really care if they are not winning. The moral code is vital, we are lucky at Buckingham, so far I’ve not had to talk to a parent, but I will when the need arises.

Comment by rActive




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