When it comes to coaching styles, the methods coaches use are as varied as the individuals that go into coaching. Some coaches yell and scream, others are relaxed, while others micro-manage. Regardless of the individual differences among adults who go into coaching, there is one, universally successful parenting style that can be easily mapped up to coaching for maximum coaching effectiveness. The parenting style I am referring to is authoritative parenting, and if you’re interested in improving from being a good coach to a great coach then this is the style for you.
Developmental psychologists recommend parents adopt an authoritative parenting style in order to maximize the cognitive and emotional growth of their children. Similarly, coaches who use an authoritative style witness similar results with the kids they coach.
Authoritative parenting is a style characterized by having rules with reasons. Authoritative parents provide their kids with love, support, and the resources to succeed — and they are active listeners when kids have questions or want to talk. Additional qualities include independence, high expectations, and appropriate discipline when rules are broken.
Transpose this parenting theory onto coaching and you are likely to see the following:
- Specific team rules, reasons for the rules, and consequences for anyone on the team who breaks the rules.
- Care for each player, support, and empathy when kids experience distress.
- An “open-door” policy for when players want to talk to the coach.
- Validation for any concern a player raises, even if the concern seems trivial.
- Developmental programs that help players gain increasingly more independence as the season unfolds.
- Challenging team and individual goals that keep motivation and perseverance high.
Unlike authoritarian parenting (known as the “do it because I said so” parent) or permissive parenting (anything goes), the authoritative parenting style is the most widely accepted and successful approach to parenting according to psychologists. Similarly, coaches who practice authoritative approaches to coaching are likely to witness the same successful results.
How to get started
The really great thing about the authoritative approach is that when you truly care about helping kids, the techniques and strategies become second-nature. In other words, when coaches value what kids have to say, allow time to get to know kids, help with individual and team goals, and apply the same consistent rules for all team members they are actually using the authoritative approach.
Like the old saying goes, “you’re players don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Very true words that every coach at every skill level can immediately apply for maximum team results.