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Why You Should Coach Your Kids

Why you should coach your kids - connecting with your favourite player

Rugby is beautiful in the fact that beyond physical and sporting achievements, it is an opportunity for players to grow friendships, confidence and discipline – while playing within a team and allowing children and adults alike to experience the bond that only our great game can offer.

Indeed, at Rippa and Small Blacks level, a significant part of this joy isn’t just the province of the players themselves, but of the coaches who experience growth and learning of their charges far beyond what would be expected at senior levels.

These are not only players who are learning, but children who are progressing through adolescence, and while parents and coaches alike might express some frustration as to the changing needs and requirements of growing adults – it is a crucial part of their development.

Not only as rugby players, but as people!

As a parent, rugby presents an ideal opportunity to connect with your children, and coaching them can reap untold benefits.

There is the option of becoming a team coach, but if your own child is amongst the team, you must ensure that you remain…relatively…detached to your own beloved.

When coaching a team where your child/children are part of, ensure:
•    There is no favouritism, effectively all children/players need to be treated equally
•    Use the same amount of care for your child you would for other players, especially if injured
•    Work everything through a process as you would for all players.  Don’t let your son and daughter become captain unless they are genuinely captaincy material!  

Of course paternal instincts can be hard to put aside, so the most effective way around this is to set up the holy grail of rugby coaching clinics – a parent working one-on-one with their child.

Here any issues that you might encounter as above become entirely void.

You can give all the favouritism you wish, nurture and care as a parent, and give the full attention to him or her who is your favourite player of all time.

Still even with this luxury of personalised teaching, there are still some areas which you will need to think out, to ensure that the personalised coaching doesn’t have the opposite effect – and polarise your child and potentially alienate your relationship.

Before you even get started, perhaps the most prudent question to ask is whether or not your child wants to play rugby, or whether it is more on your insistence.

It is a parent’s prerogative if they feel it will be in the best interests to play rugby or not, but ensure that your little one generates their own passion for the game.

Before you get on the ‘training field’ that is the backyard, try to:

•    Form the first bond, of parent and child in regards to rugby – WATCH THE GAME!
•    Let the child build their dreams and idols, it doesn’t hurt to model yourself on an All Black
•    Encourage participation, first via attending matches, before the first steps to becoming a junior registered player

When the coaching sessions start, remember as a parent:

•    Take your child’s progress with a grain of salt.  If he or she isn’t handing you off in a tackle by the end of the first week, don’t get too concerned.
•    As it is with the fore mentioned ‘too much caring’, take the greatest care in not being too hard on a player that deep down you would love to see become the best.
•    Get benefits out of it beyond the connection.  Coaching your children is an ideal way to maintain your own fitness.

As a personal coach, don’t forget the basics:

•    You are both to have fun
•    Use rewards with training, such as TV time or dinner out
•    Keep it simple, don’t envisage yourself as Sir Graham Henry before a World Cup Final, make sure you keep everything at a junior level your child will understand
•    Remember progression.  Start off with the basics and build from there.

Finally, remember the hidden advantages to coaching your children:

•    You control the surroundings.  You might not want to be like Neville and Bev Carter and build goal posts for your son Dan, but you can manipulate the environment.
•    You can work together on goals that will make them better players in their team environment.  Nothing like a bit of tackling practice on the back lawn.
•    You can coach outside of traditional environments, talking about drills while driving in the car or eating at the table.
•    You will always have a common interest.