Happy Father’s Day. Being a dad is an incredibly journey and being able to walk alongside your kids in sport is such a privilege. It’s a unique opportunity to build relationship, impart wisdom and have a lot of fun in the process. I had the privilege of coaching my son (pictured in U6 left and below in U18s) from U6’s through to U13’s and my daughter from U14’s to U18’s. We walked through the highs and the lows, the premierships we won and lost, the challenges, the setbacks, and all the fun, community and growth that’s connected to youth sports.
As a dad you have incredible influence on your kids in sport. Your support, your language, your input and your guidance is critical to their development as players and people. Here are my 3 F’s (being Fathers Day and all) for dads and their kids in sport.
1/ FUN – it’s got to be fun, above all else if your kids aren’t enjoying it, they won’t keep doing it. Even at a higher level (my son now plays 18s Premier League 1) it’s still has to be fun. If they stop enjoying it they will lose the passion, joy and love for the game. Keep it fun, make it fun and prioritise the FUN FACTOR.
2/ FOCUS – when our kids get a little older (the teenage years) helping then stay focused is also critical. They have many distractions and without focus they will begin to wander aimlessly in life and in sport. I believe this is one of dad’s greatest challenges, helping their kids stay focused on what is really important. Effort, character, loyalty and commitment. They mostly learn from us by observing our behaviour, not by what we say. Teach your kids what’s important by modelling it to them.
3/ FIGHTING – now before you start thinking that I’ve lost the plot, one of a dad’s balancing acts is working through when, where and how to fight for their kids. When to step in and when to step back and let your kids fight their own battles is really important and sometimes quite difficult to manage. Whether a set back, a rejection in a trial or an insult from another player or coach, choosing how and when to fight for your kids is critical. The best advise I can give is this: don’t overreact, model composure and character and most importantly talk it through with your kid before taking action. This creates ownership and builds resilience in your kids character. It’s important you don’t fight your kids battles for them, but ensure they know you’re fighting alongside them.