If you haven’t got your kids into some out-of-school sport, you may want to give it a go. Whether it is football, boxing,martial arts, dancing, skateboarding or gymnastics, there is a sport for everyone. Mastering a new skill boosts your child’s sense of self and belief in themselves. Not only that but sport is a fun, productive way to spend their time out of school. It also helps your children make new friends and teaches them the value of teamwork and leadership, which are great lessons to learn for later life.
Coach Sebastian Tidey talked to us about the benefits of sport for children and what advice parents can take from coaches to build skills and confidence in our kids.
Bringing Out The Best In All Kids
Sebastian has been a sports coach for 16 years. He has worked at professional academies in the UK, USA and Australia. Right now he runs his own coaching company and works for the FA as a tutor.
Is your child sometimes called bossy?
‘I believe that you can help children reach their potential through sport,’ he says. ‘This doesn’t mean being professional sports people, I mean reach their potential as people in general. It is vital to look at what skills you can teach children, such as leadership, communication, such as teamwork. People often criticise the loud and bossy child, but I would say this child has natural leadership skills. Your job as a coach/parent is to help them become a better leader. Teach them how to talk to their team so that they inspire them rather than make them feel bad.’
Is your child quiet?
On the opposite side you may have more quiet and thoughtful children, and Sebastian has other strategies for coaching them. ‘They come up with great ideas. There’s nothing wrong with them being an introvert but find a way they can comfortably communicate their ideas. They can add value to a team. This helps them find their place and be valued by others around them as well.’
The value of coaching goes beyond their immediate future and the lessons that kids learn are lifelong, says Sebastian. ‘I see children that are coached well gain technical and tactical understanding of their sport. For me this isn’t the most important thing. Children that are coached well learn life skills that will help them into adulthood.’
Possible skills children can gain from sport include:
- respect for teammates and opponents
- learning to win and lose
- leadership skills
- ability to work in a team and communicate
- striving to improve
Sebastian’s tips for parenting a child with low confidence
Sebastian has valuable advice for parents about helping boost self-esteem in their own children.
Delete ‘winning and losing’
‘The first thing I always do is get them to redefine what success is. Take away the winning and losing element. Get children to focus on individual challenges, they learn that by trying something they can improve’. He says, ‘It doesn’t matter what other people can do so they shouldn’t compare to that. For example, we ask them to juggle the ball with their feet. They may be able to do two keep ups. With some advice we encourage them just to beat their own score. Once they practice and we give some tips, they suddenly reach 3,4,5 then 10! You get them to keep challenging themselves and show them they can achieve.’
Praise the effort
‘The other advice is that coaches always praise the intention and not the outcome. For example, if you are asking a player to try and take shots with their non-dominant foot, praise their effort, even if the outcome wasn’t very good. A child will look for their coaches’ reaction. If it is praise for being brave to try something they struggle with they will try it again and improve. However, if the reaction is negative it can stop children taking on new challenges as they have a fear of failure.’
Being a coach
Sebastian enjoys his job and loves seeing the kids succeed. ‘A 6 year old scoring a goal in training will celebrate like they have won the World Cup. It’s brilliant to watch and they just have pure joy from playing. We have a lot of adults we coached more than 10 years ago, they always talk to us about memories and the great times they had at our sessions. It is great for us to see how we have had an impact in their lives.’
He recommends becoming a part-time sports coach to other dads as a rewarding and enjoyable vocation. ‘It is hard work and can also be difficult coaching your own children, but it can help grow a bond with them around sports. I would say to anyone who wants to do it, think about how you would like to have been coached and then go and be that coach, children aren’t playing in the World Cup, they are playing for the love of sports and to be with their friends.’
Sebastian’s sports coaching company is Total Sports Coaching.