The following is written by our founder and CEO, Chris Krause, who regularly contributes to the blog. You can read more of Chris’s thoughts in our archive.
I often find myself gearing my talks and writing to the student-athlete, whether it’s sharing my personal experience down that road, my recruiting story, or the places Athleadership has gotten me, and the people it’s brought into my life. This week, however, I have been reflecting on an experience that happened to me over the long President’s weekend with my kids, and one of the earlier chapters of my book in progress, Athleadership, which is, in part, a college recruiting guide for parents.
Who am I to teach the fundamentals of skiing?
This past weekend I took my kids, (Christopher – 7, and Kai – 6), about an hour-and-a-half north of Chicago to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, to take advantage of the snow with a little skiing, as well as to get out of the snow at the indoor water park. After getting them all suited up with warm duds and rental skis, (which, I’ve learned, is half the battle), we hit the bunny hill, where Coach Dad came out in full force for well over an hour: “Turn your shoulders!” “Poles up!” “Lean forward!” “Lean back!”
Thinking I was being helpful, (and surprised how much I remembered about skiing – something I haven’t done in a couple of years), I felt pretty good about myself heading into a hot chocolate break. That is…until my kids didn’t want to go back out on the slopes.
I was having a ball with them, watching them, coaching them, but then it hit me – they wanted to come have fun with Dad, not spend the day getting barked at by Dad. (After all, who am I to teach the fundamentals of skiing?!)
At the risk of ruining the sport for their lives, I made a bee-line for the nearest ski instructor, who happened to be a veteran skier and long-time instructor, or “Coach,” named Madeline. She was friendly but firm, and in less than 15 minutes told me to get the hell out of the way and leave the kids alone for their lesson. While I wanted to be part of their skiing experience, as a Dad, I had to realize it just wasn’t my place, and that leaving them with someone who knew what they were doing, had a passion for what they were doing, and someone they quickly grew to trust was the best gift I could’ve given them that day.
Plus I got a few runs in on the big-kid slopes in the meantime.
And I realized during the runs that I needed to take a page from my own book. I fell into the very trap I wrote that parents should avoid when their child is a student-athlete This got me reflecting on my latest book, and made some of the earlier chapters I wrote some time ago come full circle now that I’m going through them with my own kids. The below excerpt touches on the parent vs. coach role in nurturing an athleader, and I really took this to heart on the slopes of Lake Geneva last weekend.
You are not a coach.
You are not a coach.
Even if you are employed as a coach, even if you are an NFL coach who has led more teams to victory than any other coach in the history of coaches, you are not a coach.
At least, you are not a coach in your child’s eyes. Your child sees you as Mom or Dad, even if you coach your child’s Little League team. You are the person who takes your child to pizza after the game. You are the person who – win, lose, or draw – loves your child unconditionally.
That your children feel your unconditional love is psychologically, emotionally and physiologically critical. Tweet this!
As the person primarily responsible for nurturing a student-athlete into an athleader, you have the single most critical role. But even if you are a coach, you aren’t. First and foremost, you are a parent.
As you walk alongside your child and develop your strategy for using teachable moments to create an athleader, remember that an important distinction separates coaches from parents.
A coach is constantly instructing, training, lecturing, and correcting the child. While a parent is responsible for molding a child into a responsible adult, the parent’s job is different because parents are simultaneously their children’s top fans.
Children have only two people who love them unconditionally: Mom and Dad. That your children feel this unconditional love is psychologically, emotionally and physiologically critical. The effects of an unloving parent on a child are not nominal. Indeed, a parent who is constantly instructing, training, lecturing, and correcting the child runs the risk of causing a child to feel unloved or not good enough.
Instead of acting on every impulse to coach their children, parents of athleaders take a step back and give their children what they need most: the loving guidance of a parent.
Look for Athleadership in summer 2015. In the meantime, I invite you to talk to any of our scouts about your child’s athleticism, and how you can encourage them to succeed in the classroom and at their sport in high school, college and beyond.