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You Cannot Coach Your Own Child

Posted on 02 September 2015

The fact that you cannot coach your own child is a hard thing for most parents to swallow. It certainly was for me. Kristin and I have a great relationship. We have always gotten along very well and she is very coachable. Early on in her archery career we got a long just fine in her Junior Olympic Archery Development (J.O.A.D.) program and I was able to learn enough as a USA Archery Level 2 coach to get her by. It didn’t last.
Coaching JOAD
I remember attending my first USA Archery camp with Kristin. I was attending as a parent, which means I am suppose to watch and support, but not participate nor intervene. That was fine with me. I was there to learn how to coach Kristin better, so certainly I would learn some cool things while watching.

Boy did I learn some new things. We had some great coaches there! Sandra Reynolds, Steve Yee, Rick Bachman, and Mike Cullumber were who I recall. This camp was outdoor and they ran through everything from common archery exercises to video reviews in slow motion. It was awesome! There were recurve archers as well as compound archers in attendance. 

One of the sessions back at the hotel was actually a session for the parents and the archers. Coach Reynolds shared a story of how a parent cannot coach their own child. It just does not work out. I was in the corner replacing Kristin’s lens for her scope and I remember scoffing to myself and thinking “not me and Kristin!”

Coach Reynolds told the parents and archers during that meeting in the hotel that the parent’s role was to support and encourage. This means that I was suppose to support Kristin when she needed help, money, something fixed, food, or anything else. It also meant I was suppose to encourage Kristin when things didn’t go as planned or she just felt tired or off her game. It really was sage advice.

How could I have been so wrong? It wasn’t 6 months later when I realized how wrong I was!

Archery started to become less fun for Kristin and I. For me it was less fun because I wasn’t able to coach Kristin as I hoped and for her it was less fun because it seemed like I wasn’t supporting her in her archery. How could I not be supporting her when I was coaching her five days a week?

It was simple but not quick to solve

Kristin needed a dedicated coach other than me. We quickly found that coach and she was then able to make it onto the Compound Junior Dream Team with that new coach. I was still there to listen and support and sometimes even reinforce what her coaches were telling her, but I was not there to coach her directly.

Archery became fun again, but it took time for her to realize I wasn’t going to act as a coach and that we could just shoot next to each other and have fun again. Over the following weeks of that realization she had to remind me to let the coaches talk to her and not to me, and that is hard for some coaches and for some dads. When the coach is giving verbal corrections and instruction it should be directed at the archer, not at the parent, but the parent should be in earshot and make sure they understand the instruction.

The lesson I learned was to realize when your child needs another coach. There is a cost involved and sometimes a hassle in scheduling. It is a rare situation that a parent can coach a child in any sport. It can be in the first months or a year after starting to shoot. Recognizing the need for another coach outside the immediate family might just make the difference in performance and fun on the field.   

Now Kristin coaches me. I “punch" my release sometimes and I she catches me all the time. I had a habit of moving my feet after reaching full draw. She correct that for me. Now Kristin also asks me to check her alignment, or film her release, or fix a piece of equipment for her too. I support her and she coaches me. 

Isn’t that what Coach Reynolds said? The archer coaches the parent!

© Archery Squad, Inc.

Jason Huber

Jason Huber

Jason Huber has been involved in all forms of hunting since he was 6. He grew up hunting in North Dakota and now hunts in Arizona. He is a Level II Archery coach, a father of three, and still tries to find time to shoot competitive pistol matches and his bow!

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1 comment

  • Chris Neilson : September 07, 2015

    Great story, it’s why Zach is in JOAD, can’t afford a private coach on a regular basis. I know he would be further along if I could but thats the way things are. Your a great Dad for realizing these things and being humble and caring enough to accept them. It wasn’t that easy for me and I still have issues with trying not to coach.

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