How Parents Can Handle a Tough Coach According to Coach Stephanie Britt
We’ve all had that difficult mentor, someone who pushes you beyond your limits and isn’t willing to let you give up on yourself. But how do you know when a tough coach crosses the line? To go over everything coaching, we spoke with Stephanie Britt, owner and founder of Cheer Savannah Inc., an all-star competition cheer gym in Pooler, Georgia. As a business owner, coach and mother, Stephanie Britt knows everything there is to know about working with a tough-love coach, and when you need to draw the line.
As a team player, the only thing you can do is ensure that you work hard at every turn — it is the only thing you can control. Being able to control how hard you work, the duties you perform and how you perform them is a great way to keep your confidence up in any sort of ‘tough-love’ situation. You are always going to have critics in your life who put you down, make you feel not good enough, and make you want to quit, but working through these experiences with a tough coach can be a great way to build a steady foundation for the rest of your life.
When you think of a tough coach, you likely imagine a drill sergeant, who is militant in their approach and rule their team with an iron fist. In the end, it will be your job as a parent to be able to identify the type of impact that this is having on your child, and if the tough approach is beneficial to them or not.
One of the first tips Stephanie Britt provides is to get as involved as you possibly can when dealing with a tough coach. Whether you volunteer to bring healthy snacks, or establish a sportsmanship group with fellow parents, being involved with your child’s team and coach will give you a great look into whether or not their behavior is crossing the line. As much as we want to trust our children, sometimes they can project onto their coaches when they don’t feel like doing the drills or going to practice. Try to find an objective perspective before you take any action.
The second tip is to communicate clearly with the coach and develop an open relationship with them. Stephanie Britt suggests periodically checking in with the coach to see how your child is progressing. This will give the coach an opportunity to offer you an assessment of your child’s skill development and provide suggestions of ways you can help your child. If you feel like their assessment is unfair, pointed, and nonconstructive, this might be a first sign that the ‘tough love’ approach may not be right for your child. In this same sentiment, make sure you have an openness with your child, and are able to talk about everything they are experiencing in their coaching progress.
Thirdly, you want to make sure you are an advocate for your child in every way. Remember that it is never alright for a coach to belittle, humiliate or scream at their team, if you witness this type of behavior that clearly ‘crosses the line’, you will want to seriously consider moving your child to a new coach. The chances are, if you are having trouble with this coach, other parents and team members likely will too.
Stephanie Britt’s Final Thoughts
At the end of the day, we want to train our children to handle constructive criticism and coaching to build on their skills and draw on the expertise of professionals. However, if you feel like your tough love coaching relationship has become toxic, there is no harm in seeking out other coaches who might better fit your child’s temperament.