Google+ Authentic Parenting: Why Sideline Coaching is Bad - Behavior Tips for Parents When Their Kids Take Up Sports

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why Sideline Coaching is Bad - Behavior Tips for Parents When Their Kids Take Up Sports

My daughter took up horseback riding a couple weeks ago and has been head over heels with it ever since. I used to ride myself, so I love going there and seeing her ride, but it's also a bit stressful. I want to make remarks, I see things she doesn't yet, but I quiet myself, knowing it's not my place and allowing her her own learning process.

Not all parents at the track reason this way though. It's interesting to see.

Last lesson, there were lots of kids and three sets of parents in particular were constantly yelling commands at their kids.
One of the kids, a tiny 4 year old girl, had a bit of a lazy pony and wasn't able to make it trot, even with the whip. Her dad (who had been yelling stuff at her ever since she mounted the pony "sit straight", "hold the reins tighter", "you have to encourage him more") got so worked up, started yelling at the teacher: "whip him! if you don't whip him, I will". He crossed the paddock and went to stand where he could actually touch the ponies.

Luckily, around that time, the stables' owner came by and commented on the parent's incessant remarks.

He said to them that it wasn't the parent's place to comment and yell stuff at their kids.

And he is more then correct.

Sideline coaching is bad for the learning process. It distracts the child, it demeans the coach, it discourages genuine interest.
Moreover, if you're paying a professional to tach the lesson, then don't pretend that you can do it just as well.

Even though it may be hard to just allow natural learning to occur in a field where you have first hand knowledge, it's important to do so. All kids learn at their own pace, and being distracted by the parent's incessant remarks only shunts that pace.
If you can't handle it, just go and sit somewhere with a drink and watch from afar. Loosen the reins ;)

Does your child practice a sport or activity that you do or used to do? Find it hard not to interfere?



  1. A anecdote to back you up:
    My parents were sideline coaches during my horseback riding years. They were also martyrs and guilt-drivers to the extreme when it came to my horse and my lessons. To this day I avoid horseback riding, and I have years of accomplished riding and horse savvy under the saddle. ;) I just can't get past that sour taste of guilt and stress so closely associated with this lovely sport.

    1. I'm so sorry... that's just sad, but I can completely understand

  2. I'm a lifeguard and a swim teacher, I am not afraid to tell parents of my students to go sit down, I'll do the teaching for the next half hour. And when other teachers are teaching when I'm guarding I always tell parents to back off, respectfully yet directly. Kids get confused when mom/dad's there hollering commands while her teacher is right in front of her. One dad asked me, "is it really a problem?" I said a definitive YES! And cited reasons you list in your article. I find it hard for parents to believe that when someone actually tells them to go sit down that they still argue and insist on causing a ruckus. Needs to be done, though, for the good of the kids.


I love comments! Drop me a line