Coaching and parenting are similar. It’s not that one is more important, well, obviously parenting is more important, but in my own experience as a father and a coach the two roles are virtually synonymous, especially in the areas of boundary setting and character building.

Boundaries are critical to a child’s development whether eating dinner, playing with friends or on the field. Children are far more successful when they understand the boundaries in any given situation. Coaches, like parents, need to provide an environment where children can grow, one that allows them to feel safe, an environment with rules and boundaries.One of the most important ways to create a safe, enriching environment is to be consistent! Whatever rules or boundaries are set, they must be reinforced time and again. If not, the child won’t know what the limits are, and if he doesn’t know the limits he can’t be successful.

Children who are coached and parented with consistent boundaries begin to hold themselves accountable. What happens in that kind of environent is that children begin to police themselves.

The very first thing I do as a coach is set parameters. For example, I will say: Here’s a box. If you go outside the box, the consequence will be that you need to run a lap. As long as you stay in the box, everything will be great. If you step outside the box, you run a lap, whether it’s the first time you step out of the box or the 30th time.

To ensure that children understand the parameters, I always ask them to repeat them back to me. There is something about hearing themselves say it that makes the boundary more real to them. It also ensures that there is an understanding between us–an agreement, a contract, a promise.


Hello All, and welcome back to another edition of X on Fitness!

As we discussed about Coaching and Parenting Coaching & Parenting earlier, now we shall discuss about the 4 Ls:Look, Listen, Learn and Love. I want to explain the link these words have to training, and the bond they can create between you, your athletes and your children.

Let’s begin with Look. Children need to be able to take an honest look at themselves. They need to judge their strengths and weaknesses in order to improve, whether in sports, education or relationships. Being self-critical in a positive way is vital to a child’s development as an athlete.

Next is Listen. After a self-critical look, a child needs to listen to the coach to learn ways s to improve. This is not always easy. Many children are unable to hear constructive criticism. They would rather stop doing something they don t feel they are good at. This is where a skilled coach can be a tremendous asset. As a coach, I expect children to listen to me, but I also listen to them. There is mutual respect as we work together to make them better athletes.

The next L is Learn. After looking and listening, a child needs to analyze the information he has acquired. This is a real challenge for kids to do by themselves. Again, this is where the coach plays a huge role. Do I want to give kids all the answers? No, they don’t learn from that and they don’t develop from that. What I do as a coach is ask children the right questions and then allow them to find their own answer. It’s a real skill to be able to ask the right questions and have the patience to watch children discover answers by themselves. I encourage children to view themselves in a way that is positive and promotes growth from within. My goal is to use a child’s passion for sports as a way to help him learn to improve in all aspects of life. I want to build people of character out of these young men and women, not just athletes.

The 4th L is Love, love of the game and love of the sport. A passion makes all the hard work seem less like work. So love, I tell both my athletes and my own children. Love what you are doing, be passionate about it. And remember each of the 4 Ls: Look, listen, learn and Love.


From and

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There are many obstacles to the dual role of parent-coach. Parents worry they will favor their own child. Other children on the team have concerns that the coach’s son or daughter will get more playing time or be shown favoritism in other ways. The child of the parent-coach has her own concerns. How will having my Mom or Dad as coach make thing different for me?

The first time a parent-coach critiques his own child, everyone watches the reaction of the parent-coach child. Most of the time the child reacts negatively, feeling as though she is being chastised in front of her peers more critically. How you address your child’s reaction is critical to the future success of your experience as a parent-coach and to your relationship with your child. This can be an opportunity to strengthen and build your relationship with your child. Most importantly, the parent-coach must communicate to their child that they are treating them in the same way as everyone else on the team. The way to do this is to be consistent. I always say that coaching is like parenting. And one of the things I think is so vital in parenting is consistency. If your child sees that you’re consistent with parameters and boundaries and how you discipline, they will begin to see that it isn’t just about them.

As a parent-coach you have an opportunity to create an even deeper relationship with your own child. I have a good example: One day my stepson said to his mom, Sometimes it feels like when we leave the gym the coaching doesn’t stop and Xavier continues to coach me in the car on the way home. . . . and at the breakfast table or in the car on the way to school. I told my stepson how fortunate we were to have the opportunity to delve deeper into the sport in question so he could get an even greater depth of knowledge about what he was doing, what we were trying to do as a team and what the other players were doing. This is something a parent-coach can share with her own child to help her learn from other kid’s mistakes, from her own mistakes, from her parent’s mistakes. It’s invaluable.

Coaching your own child is a difficult challenge. It can put a lot of stress on the parent-child relationship as well as the coaching-child relationship. It requires a delicate balance and some critical thinking form all parties, with the parent taking the lead. I happen to be a very lucky stepfather. The opportunity to coach my stepson’s team has not only improved and strengthened our relationship, it has improved his knowledge and respect for the game of basketball.