Parenting an Athlete Series 1 of 3

During my 39 years of coaching, I have listened to and learned from many other great coaches, scientists and doctors, both at the local and national levels. Like many of you, my career evolved in the technical merits of our craft and the leadership values that guide our growth. The game of baseball taught and molded my experience and leveraged wisdom. Clearly, I am not the same coach, parent, or husband I was four decades ago. In that time the sports industry has evolved as well. Based upon education, science, technology, and our ability to travel and explore, we as other professionals, have rightly increased our influence.

But all that education, in addition to all the information on the internet, is useless unless we properly engage, communicate, and apply it in daily practice. Basically, we have to teach. Memorized content may be beneficial in many aspects of life, but not in sports. If we cannot integrate our athletic information into action, we have wasted the time acquiring the facts. Great teachers reveal new information and HOW to use it! On the teaching floor we simplify the message to players, which always brings a laugh. Information is like deodorant, if you don’t use it — you stink!

Back in the 80’s I adopted a teaching concept called learning how to learn. We continue that concept today that manifests itself as a commitment and a core value of the Pinkman Academy. We want players to become their own best coach. We want them engaged in learning. I’ll speak to this later….
the most important question in our Academy is… “WHY”.

Let me share with you a bit of our Academy’s culture and some important ethical discussions we continue to have with parents over the years.

Choosing Friends
One of the biggest worries parents have is the limited control of who their children choose as friends. Perhaps a major factor in parents directing their children into sports, is the opportunity for children to instantly meet a new group of friends. Granted, it’s not perfect or guaranteed! A favorite quote of mine – “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” It is essential for parents to stay involved.
Parents who use sports merely as a baby-sitting asset are generally disappointed with the outcome.

An aspect of learning the skills of friendship (and/or competition) is what we call “carry away values” from the field, court, or venue. Originally, sports were mainstreamed into education to teach students how to compete AND cooperate at the same time. Dependability, honor, respect, compassion, empathy, trust, integrity, and passion are values parents want to instill in their children, and for them to find in their friends. Here is the catch – a hard reality that I learned as a parent and a young coach: do not expect that the average coach will know how to accept that responsibility of teaching your child those values. For much of my career as a player and a coach, most coaches rarely got past the thin concept of ‘be a good sport’. Here is another surprising but true statement: Sports doesn’t always teach values; it exposes them.

NEXT WEEK: Part 2 – Leadership — In sports, there are only two choices: you choose to become a leader or choose to be a teammate. There is no third choice. Apathy does not exist (for long) in sports.