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Responsible Sports: Providing Feedback to Your Child
Responsible Sports
11/13/2012

Last month, a Responsible Sports Parent wrote to our panel of experts to ask:

“My 10-year old son wrestles and loves to play and go to the team practices. He is in good programs with good coaches, but he doesn't want to practice between team practices and work on things the coaches have given him to improve on. When I do get him to practice at home and point out that he isn't doing what his coaches have taught him, we end up arguing.

Am I expecting too much from a 10 year old? When he does practice, should I just let him practice the wrong way, as long as he is practicing, and let his coaches worry about getting him to improve?

- Danny, a concerned parent

We asked two of our experts to weigh in. Brandon Slay – National Freestyle Resident Coach at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, had this to say:

Yes, you are expecting too much from a 10 year old. Your son needs to perceive and believe wrestling is tons of fun if he is going to continue with the sport for many years to come. Respectfully, you focus on being his Father/Parent and let the Coach focus on coaching him in practice. Because he needs a Coach, and he needs a Dad. Each have different roles, and the roles need to be clear. If you keep trying to coach him and correct him, you will continue to argue and fight. Then, he may quit wrestling because he doesn't think arguing with you about it is fun.

I started wrestling when I was 6 years old and loved going to team practice just like your son, but I didn't work on wrestling at home at that age. Now, I did pushups, sit-ups, played games outside with friends, and road my bike. But, I didn't do wrestling drills at home because there needed to be a separation and break from wrestling. When it's wrestling practice time, your son needs to be focused on wrestling practice, but when he is home, he needs to enjoy life at home. Hopefully, as he continues to love wrestling, there will be plenty of time in high school, college, and training for the Olympics to study video and work on wrestling skills outside of practice time.

And Tina Syer, Chief Impact Officer from Positive Coaching Alliance answered:

Dear Danny,

The main goal at this age is to keep him enjoying his sports experience, so he’ll want to continue playing. I once had the opportunity to hear Peyton Manning talk about growing up with Archie Manning (legendary NFL quarterback) as his dad. He said that Archie never asked him to go outside to throw the ball around, and he never offered Peyton any advice on his quarterbacking… unless Payton asked for it. If Peyton asked his dad to head outside to throw, Archie was right on it. If Peyton asked for feedback after a game, Archie was all over it. The key here was that it was initiated by Peyton.

If your son does ask you to practice with, a good technique to use while you practice is “ask rather than tell.” This might sound like, “Tell me what your coaches told you about your form?” If he does not remember you might “ask for permission” to tell him: “Do you want me to tell you what I think I heard them say?” The tough part here is that if he says, “No,” you have to honor this and not continue on with the instruction, as he’s made it clear he’s not open to it at this time. What I’ve seen happen often in this case is that five minutes later he’ll ask you what you think they said.

Your son is lucky to have a dad who is this involved with his sports experience, and I know that with some small tweaks, this could be a lot more enjoyable for both of you.

Are you a coach or parent who has a youth wrestling question you’d like to pose to our panel of experts? Visit us on Facebook and ask your question today! We regularly post answers on Facebook.com/ResponsibleSports and each month we’ll feature one question here at USA Wrestling.

The Liberty Mutual Responsible SportsTM program supports volunteer youth sports coaches and parents who help our children succeed both on and off the mat.



 
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