I have coached my son’s competitive basketball team for three years now. As a kid basketball was my sport and I even played a bit in college.
Last Sunday we had our end of season team basketball party where we eat pizza, drink soda and I say something about each individual on the team. Thankfully, now that they are 7th graders we are beyond the trophies that don’t mean anything or the medals that get sucked up in the vacuum cleaner or chewed up by the dog.
I really enjoy talking about the progress each kid has made over the course of the season. At this age they think it’s a little corny and they do get embarrassed, but deep inside they and their parents always like to hear what coach has to say.
As is usually the case it was easy to talk about all of the other kids and the progression they’d made. Each is different and it is so rewarding to me when I’m able to successfully mold them into a team.
Then I come to my son and my comments suddenly take on a different meaning. I’m never sure what to say because coaching your kid is different. Without question, as a coach I am always harder on my own son. I expect more from him and derive a higher sense of satisfaction when he succeeds. It’s natural. On the other hand, he is part of the team and needs to be treated equally, both positive and negative.
I began by acknowledging how difficult I found it being both a coach and dad. To be successful I needed to achieve connection with my son on two intellectual levels – as a dad and as a coach. Riding to and from practice I’m a dad, but once we step on the court I’m a coach. Imagine the difficulty for a 7th grader in differentiating between the two. I went on mention that I thought we had done a pretty good job this year reaching these levels and that his game was coming along nicely although his intensity level needed to be more consistent. I was both relieved by the nods from the parents and glad it was over.
My son didn’t say anything on the ride home. His mind was already focused on his friend coming over. Being able to coach my son is a true blessing and those in the same situation understand this. I also know how much he really appreciates it. His mom tells me.