Junior cricket season is here – what sort of parent will you be?

Grahame Barrett Roar Rookie

By , Grahame Barrett is a Roar Rookie New author!


12 Have your say

    Junior cricket season is here again.

    To some of us, this is a new exciting experience, to others we just can’t wait, while to the “converted”, the drag has just begun.

    The vast majority (90%) of youth cricket teams are coached by one or more parents who have children on the team, a necessary arrangement to keep the sport of cricket afloat. Apart from some blinkered parents, few club or representative teams can afford the cost of professional coaches.

    Studies have shown that coaching your child can be a wonderful experience for both parent and child. The extra attention helps the child to “flourish like a rose in the warmth of their parents’ gaze,” says child psychologist Dr Wendy Mogel.

    Unfortunately, there are well-publicized instances where conflicts on the field between coach and child are carried home and negatively affect the parent-child relationship.

    Studies show clearly that just because you’re a good parent doesn’t mean you’re going to be a good coach. Many parent coaches have difficulty separating their roles as a parent and a coach, bringing home issues from practice and games.

    Your child may feel extra pressure to please you, particularly if you’re overly invested in their success. Some children don’t want their parents to coach due to a fear of the reaction of other team members.

    Despite all of the advantages of Milo Into Cricket and Twenty20 Bash, nearly 75 per cent of children stop playing sports by age 15 primarily because the game is no longer fun. Why?

    Perhaps due to over-competitive parental coaching.

    During an informal poll over a 30-year period, hundreds of high school students have been asked to think back: “What is your worst memory from playing junior and high school sports?”

    Their overwhelming response was “The ride home from games with my parents.”

    Nevertheless, 8.00am Saturday morning we will be racing around eager to get to the grounds on time, ready for another session with eyes peeled for the mobile coffee van to receive the morning boost before the task ahead.

    Think carefully with each sip what sort of parent(s) will you be this season?

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    (Photo by Graham Denholm/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    If you are not the team coach, will you be the coach from the sidelines and make the car ride home the most miserable part of your child’s sports experience?

    Will you have poker machine eyes and envisage a position for them in representative cricket, an investment in a future academy scholarship, and thus push for more and more at younger and younger ages than even Milo and Have A Go?

    Will you think they should specialise, give up winter sports to concentrate on this wonderful game in spite of the multitude of evidence that it is physically and psychologically harmful, and has a detrimental effect on their long-term chances of athletic success?

    On the other hand with a year of experience under your club cap, will you suddenly no longer feel the need to keep up with the Smiths, or worry that you’re a bad parent because you will have no pictures of the Under-11 Presidents Cup Team with your son in it to post on Facebook this week?

    Will you wonder why some parents nearby are complaining the “new friends they met at the Under 11-Development Squad training no longer talk to them now that their son has been cut?”

    Will you sit and ponder again how Cricket Australia are stating their new under-11 formats adopted by many district associations are non-competitive yet we are also still having representative cricket at this age?

    Who cares you say, if a parent wants to put time and money into private training, to help their child make this team and buy expensive oversized equipment for their kids, then go for it. It makes them easier to spot and avoid.

    What will you do when you hear at a drinks break one of the “boundary” coaches telling the parent/coach (your husband) he will quit as the scorer and leave the team if his son doesn’t get first bat?

    There are no easy answers to this (travel, elite, trophies, competitive, academies, my kid’s better, versus in-house recreation).

    I understand parents being proud of their children and I’ve seen many kids work hard on their own to move up between seasons. Many are glad their children have had many more opportunities than them.

    Human ugliness really can shine during a close game when we play DCA or Presidents Cup. I think parents believe that if their kids beat yours they must be better parents, right?

    Meanwhile, the parent/coach is still there with his protégés, sun hat, sunscreen and all-weather jacket battling the wind as it keeps the sideline performers out of earshot.

    Are you, however, one of the new breed?

    You know and actually communicate to your child and his or her teammates that success is not the same thing as winning, and failure is not the same thing as losing.

    Success is “hard work, dedication to the job at hand and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied ourselves to the task at hand.”

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    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    If you can teach your children that single lesson, your coaching experience will be worthwhile.

    In reality, we are all to blame for this mess, including me, and everyone who is reading this. Why?

    “Because we have stood by and allowed junior cricket to be professionalised, taken over by adults and stolen from the kids. This is not a sin of commission, it is a sin of omission, a failure to act.”

    Too many parents coach from the sidelines and make the car ride home the most miserable part of the junior cricket experience.

    Yet we do nothing. The vast majority say nothing. We do not demand change. We simply complain and then watch our kids burnout, dropout and quit.

    However, I am led to believe there is actually some parents and coaches who do not like this current situation, the toxic sidelines, the over the top spectators, the belligerent coaches, the politics among administrators, the specialisation and the fact that private coaches are recruiting Under 11 and 12-year players these days.

    They don’t like the costs, the travel requirements or crazy commitments that make them choose between the sixth full weekend in a row of summer and grandma’s 96th birthday.

    If you are nodding in agreement you are likely to be one of the great parents and coaches.

    Have a wonderful season!

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