“I want to join Rachel’s soccer team,” announced 11-year-old Lindsey, and her parents agreed. But three weeks later Lindsey wanted out. “I thought it would be fun,” she said. “But the coach is mean. We do the same drills over and over, and he yells at us if they aren’t perfect.” When Lindsey’s mom and dad took their concerns to the coach, he replied that if Lindsey wasn’t willing to work she should quit. Too late, Lindsey’s parents realized that their daughter and her coach had entirely different expectations.
According to Caroline Silby, sports psychologist and author of Game Girls Play (St. Martins, 2001), we parents need to investigate prospective coaches before our daughters join their teams. Our first question when choosing a coach should be: What does my daughter want from the sport? Then we can determine whether a coach is a good fit. A girl who seeks to become a champion will accept and even welcome a more demanding coach than will a girl who’s playing for fun. Joining a team for social reasons as Lindsey did is fine, as long as all parties recognize this as the athlete’s goal.