Wednesday, August 12, 2015


This article was posted here back in 2012.  Recent discussions with coaches, parents, and coaches who are parents led me to reposting it today.  Enjoy.

Coaches and parents will want to read this.

Basketball coaches learn from each other all the time.  We share information, borrow some, and are always watching and picking up tidbits wherever they can.  One of the most important pieces of advice I learned in my 20+ years of coaching didn't come from my past experiences as an athlete, or a coaching clinic, or a coaching colleague, or even a coaching DVD.  This piece of valuable advice was given to me from my wife.

This information is for all coaches.  As a coach we interact with the parents of our players.  BUT if you are a coach and a parent this is especially for you.

I am a basketball coach.  And like most basketball coaches it is difficult for me to watch any basketball game for pure entertainment purposes.  It doesn't matter if a coach is watching game 7 of the NBA finals on television or the first game of a fifth grade league at the YMCA, we seem to analyze the game we are watching as a coach.  This is not a bad thing because it is a part of who we are and how we are wired.

Add your own children to the mix and you have a tough balancing act.

I have been fortunate to say that I have been able to watch my own children participate in sports, including basketball, for many years.  I'm no different than the next parent as I get nervous for my child as they play because I want them to perform well and feel good about themselves.  But I also watch the game with a coach's mentality (after all it IS what I do).   And who do parents watch more closely during games? That's right, their own kid.  Again, I am no different than other parents.

After a game was finished my wife and I would wait with the other parents for our children to come over and visit with us after their coach was done talking to them.  We always greet them with a hug and a "good job".  But then my coaching personality kicked in and I would start rehashing the game with them.  I wasn't necessarily judging how well they played, but I would talk to them as if they were one of the players on my own team.  I would ask them questions about a particular possession, or an adjustment the team made, or even what their thought process might have been during a certain play.  I thought I was just talking to my kids and connecting with them about something they also have a passion for. I later learned that this is not what my children thought I was doing.

ENTER THE 20 MINUTE RULE...My wife is smart.  She could see that our kids weren't always interested in rehashing things immediately after the game was completed.  Her exact words were, "They don't need a coach right now, they need their dad."  And she was right.  I felt I was able to add insight to our kids because I am a coach.  This may be true, but it wasn't what the kids needed at that time.  So, she introduced the "20 Minute Rule" to our family.  The 20 Minute Rule means that when we meet up with our children after one of their games we don't talk about specific parts of the game for twenty minutes.  We don't have a stopwatch that counts down the minutes until I can ask my first question (that would look a bit funny).  I started to take those first few minutes with the kids after games and continued to give them a hug and tell them "good job", but it also gave them a chance to initiate the conversations we were to have after the games.  And once the twenty minute rule was over the discussions about the game were less coach-player orientated, and more dad-child orientated.  We still discuss the games but after the 20 Minute Rule these discussions started later at home, not in the gym immediately following a game. Also, it allowed my words of, "I really enjoyed watching you play," mean more to my children when it wasn't followed by questions about the game.

Because coaching is a big part of my life, and my kids are active in athletics, the 20 Minute Rule is one of the best pieces of advice I have been given.  It's shown me how to be a parent of an athlete in a way that makes the overall experience better for my children. Thanks to my wife.

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