Tag Archives: coaches

Swim Parent 101………

If your child has ever been involved in anything competitive (including learning to tie his shoes), you have run into the “my child ties his shoes better than your child” parent. It is exhausting. Swim parents are no exception. So I humbly offer some guidelines for those parents who will be sitting with other parents waiting for hours for their children to swim one and a half minutes more beautifully than any other children has ever swum before.

  • When attending a swim meet at an indoor pool, forgo the perfume/cologne. It does not mix well with the chlorine laden air. In fact, let’s just make this a life rule – if you are going to be around other people and you will not be able to spread your arms out straight to create some space between bodies, perfume is a no go.
  • Do use deodorant. Always. Every time.
  • Don’t forget to pack snacks. Snacks make a swim meet better.
  • Either buy a meet sheet or figure it out on your own. They are usually just a couple of dollars. Don’t keep asking for “just a peek” at the parent’s sheet next to you.
  • Walk outside to talk on your phone. Turn down your ipod.
  • If you say to your child, “you must get a 37.06 in this race” and your child’s response is “I just don’t know what you mean by that,” reconsider swimming as the sport of choice for your kid. Or at least temporarily suspend your hopes of Olympic Gold. If your child is younger than 8 and you are quoting must-meet times, check yourself. You are already an out-of-control swim parent.
  • Do not talk to the parent next to you when her child is swimming. Especially with a running commentary on his technique/speed/cuteness of suit.
  • Do not offer that parent advice on how his kid could improve his technique/dives/turns after watching him swim. Even if you have the best idea ever. No wait… especially if you have the best idea ever. Just say, boy that was a nice swim. Period. Done.
  • You really cannot predict height or wing span – even if the doctor “guesses” what the height of your child might be. Just let your kid swim the race at the meet you are attending and worry about how great they are “going” to be when they are sixteen when they are actually sixteen. And if you are using the term wing span in reference to your own child’s fabulousness, settle down. Have a snack – it is better to use your mouth for nourishment purposes at this point.
  • When you stand up in the stands and wave your arms wildly in a kicking motion, you can be pretty sure that your child’s thought bubble is not saying, “oh yippee, look at my mom being so super supportive and giving me last minute pointers. Thank God she reminded me to kick. I might have forgotten that at a swim meet I am supposed to kick.” Your child is actually thinking, “oh dear heavens, please sit down.”
  • If you are extremely out of shape, you lose credibility in the athletic world – no matter how great you might have been once. It is not fair, but it is very true.
  • Once your child dives in with a swim cap on over his ears and begins to swim with his head mostly under water, he will not hear you screaming. No matter how loud you scream. Yes, this is also unfortunately true for backstroke. But you can cause hearing loss or at least headache damage for the poor parent sitting next to you.
  • Sending a piercing whistling sound through the air every time your child’s head pops out of the water during breaststroke should be deemed a crime punishable by death.
  • Parents are generally not allowed on deck. Get over it. Of course, if you really want to be on deck, grab a stopwatch and volunteer to time. Every parent has felt the pang of watching her child walk through those big glass doors alone. We give our kids a cell phone to keep with them so they can reach us if they need something. Walkie talkies work too. And before we had cell  phones, we used our kids DS game – if you have two, they can talk to each other. But seriously, just consider volunteering. You will probably even get free food and all the bathroom breaks you need.
  • No matter how many different ways you can think of to praise your child, the parent next to you is still going to think her kid is better. Even if scientific evidence and swim times point to the contrary.
  • If your kid has a bad swim, don’t make excuses. It’s hard to get your best time – really hard. And humans make mistakes. I have never seen a kid intentionally screw up a flip turn or a dive or swim his slowest in a race. Not ever. So, when they get out of the water just love them for getting in the water in the first place. Let the coaches correct their technique. That is why you pay them. Too many kids are brought to tears by their parents opinion of a race.
  • and the Golden Rule of Swim Parent 101 – don’t ever, under any circumstances, ever quote another child’s time to his/her parent. Just be busy with your own child’s time and leave other children’s times on the time sheet where they belong.

Of course, all of these are offered humbly because I have been the victim of my own wisdom more than once. 😉

As it should be……………

Another sports post – oh say it isn’t so – it is. But this is a good one.

My daughter had another basketball game. The opposing team has one of her dearest friends on it.

Her mom cheered for my daughter – I cheered for her daughter. The girls giggled throughout the entire game. The parents behaved. The coaches mostly behaved – one did get a technical foul – but I (not sitting too close this time) didn’t think that was warranted, unless maybe he said something really ugly under his breath that I could not hear from my comfy cozy seat on the other side of the gym.

The girls played hard. Grandparents clapped and smiled. The refs took every opportunity to explain the calls to the girls.

And butterflies flew around the gym under rainbows while unicorns danced. Okay, not really. But close.

After the game, we ran into a player from the other team at 7-11. She had done a great job guarding my little angel. I told her she gave Angel a run for her money. They both snickered while they were getting their slurpees.

Then the other girl turned on her heels and said, “hey, good game.”

Angel said, “yeah, you too.”

And all was right with the sports world for 9-year-old girls.

Teachable Moments………

Pretty soon, I am going to have to change the name of this blog to Sports Are (Not) Us.

I have a friend who calls any mistake a teachable moment. And it’s good to remember that parents can have teachable moments too. My family got to experience several yesterday.

My daughter plays basketball. She just started this year and she really, really likes it. And she has great coaches.

She had a game yesterday. She is 9, as are all of her teammates. It’s rec league – not travel. So there are rules about how many quarters everyone can play so that everyone gets fairly equitable playing time. Of course, depending on how many players are there, it’s not all even steven but it can be closer than not.

The coach from the other team played one player – a super duper great player – all four quarters. There were 7 players on his team so no one should have played more than 3 quarters in the land of following the rules. But his choice left at least one other child to play less than her fair share. Conveniently enough it was not one of their strongest players.

Our coaches pointed it out at the beginning of the third quarter when it actually would have been effective to address it.

The other coach ignored it. “Oh, we’ll talk about it later,” he said. Seriously, you have been told the rule and you opt out?

The teenage referees were not counting quarters of play and it quickly became too late to do anything about it. Without boring you to tears with the details – the other coach waited until the last quarter to give one girl her 2nd quarter of play. This meant she could not be substituted in for the player who was playing her fourth. It seemed suspect.

Then, when he tried to substitute another girl in mid-way through the fourth quarter who already had three quarters of play in and who was also conveniently also a very good player (by taking out a girl who had not yet had her three quarters), our coaches said “Wait a minute. You just cannot do that.”

The other coach said basically, “Why not?”

Well, let’s see, besides the little thing called the rule book, no reason.

So someone we were sitting with looked up the rules on his smart phone and took the rules onto the court. I have to say initially I was very happy he did it. I simply cannot stand it when coaches pull this kind of crap. I really can’t – it teaches so many bad lessons and it is so unnecessary. But the reality of it is that parents aren’t allowed on court. The parent did not stay to argue the case but you know – two wrongs rarely make a right. And two bad examples don’t end up being a good example.

I have to say that no one was yelling, the teenage refs kept their composure, and it was all fairly civilized. But every last second of it was completely unnecessary.

It is still very hard for me to understand why this coach did this. I know winning is a lot of fun. But if you win by cheating then are you really winning? And if you know you are cheating, well…..

We took advantage of the teachable moment it gave us to talk to our kids about a lot of things – the character of the coach, our inappropriate involvement in the discussion (I was pretty fired up myself), and how unfortunate it was for the girls who were being shortchanged and even for the girls who were being relied on too heavily.

The worst part of all of it is that this team is undefeated which means they have a really good team made up of strong players. They are probably even coached pretty well. They played well together and had a lot of strengths. They would have had a great game within the parameters of the rules.

So as parents we (read I) have to remember to let the coaches coach and the refs ref and to not have an opinion.

And, most importantly, we need to let (all) the players play the game and just watch.

I also need to rethink how close I sit to the coaches. I heard way too much of what was going on.

As coaches, please remember you are setting an example of how to behave on and off the court. It’s is more important for us all to raise children of character than WNBA superstars. Of course I understand that the dynamics of the play structure are most likely lost on the girls. They probably did not understand what was happening. (Although I bet one little girl understood very well that she was not playing nearly as much as someone else.) I can barely figure out the playing time matrix, but the coaches should understand it. And if they don’t, well then, the league should educate them better. Although I unfortunately do not believe this was a breakdown in the education system.

The bottom line for me is that I fell off my high horse yesterday smack in the mud and I am a little sore today………….