Maybe THE most difficult balancing act that any Coach ever has to do is to coach their own flesh and blood. The other kids are watching you for signs of favoritism, the parents of those kids are looking for the same thing, your spouse and other family are watching to see if you are too hard on junior or junior miss. The Refs know that’s your kid and of course, are calling every call against him or her, meanwhile allowing them to be hacked by axe murderers with no calls! At least that’s how our parent/coach goggles can see things sometimes. It’s tough.
I had the blessing recently of speaking with Creighton Head Coach Greg McDermott about the challenges he faced in coaching National College Player of the Year and Chicago Bull Doug McDermott. I would strongly encourage you to listen to this JHS Podcast if you are a Parent/Coach. My Podcasting Partner Coach Troy told me after the interview, “If only I had heard all this before I coached my boy,…man I could’ve avoided a LOT of trouble!” Please Subscribe, Rate and Review as that will help this project grow and together, we can make the world a better place through sport.
- MARAVICH VS MCDERMOTT – “THE TWO ROADS TAKEN”
The love Press Maravich had for his son Pete was undeniable. The man lived for, and adored his boy. Pete was his life. A reporter at LSU once asked Press if Pete was receiving special privileges on the floor and Press told him point blank, “Of course he is! Pete is special!” And he was. His skills were astounding; he averaged 44 pts a game at LSU without a 3 point line. With the line, Pete would have averaged 53 pts a game! Press designed his team around his son and didn’t care what others thought. No doubt it put a lot of pressure on young Pete, and no doubt it made for some uncomfortable moments with jealous teammates and frustrated opponents. Until late in his life when Faith intervened, Pete lived with tremendous sadness off the court, due to the pressure on the court to be “the Pistol”. It was lot to put on a boy.
Greg McDermott took a different path, and while Doug’s numbers were more “human”, usually around 25 points a game, they came in a more team oriented system than the circus atmosphere around Maravich. The love was the same, but the path was totally different. “If you don’t treat them like everyone else, then you are asking for trouble,” McDermott told us, “I communicated to the team at the beginning that Doug is my son, that is a fact. I am his Father, that is a fact. When we go between the lines, we are going to attempt to make it so that you will not be able to tell that we are Father and Son.” A lot of NBA Scouts told Coach that if they didn’t know Doug was his son, they would have never guessed it by what they witnessed in Creighton’s practice or games. Doug was very much, one of the guys.
- TWO WAYS YOU CAN RUIN THE PARENT/PLAYER RELATIONSHIP AND YOUR TEAM
1) One is obvious. You treat you son or daughter special on the court. They start at PG and get the most minutes and touches, yet they don’t truly deserve it. You let them take bad shots with no accountability. You design your team to “feature” your son or daughter instead of designing your team to play together and grow as one. I can walk into any gym in America on any given weekend and find this Coach and Player. It rarely ends well. I can also tell you that college recruiters dread dealing with this type of Player/Parent/Coach because they know trouble when they see it. In trying to help the player, the parent is actually crippling them in the eyes of scouts.
2) The second way to damage the relationship is less common, but equally destructive. It is the Parent/Coach who is too hard on their son/daughter and holds them to a much higher level of accountability than the rest of the team. Sadly, I can also walk into any gym in America on any given weekend and quickly find this duo as well. This Coach/Parent yells at his son or daughter louder and longer than any other player on the team, pulls them for mistakes quicker and generally holds them to a higher standard than teammates. Coach McDermott described it well, “You are proud of what your son has accomplished but you are hesitant to congratulate him because you don’t want it look to the other players/parents/fans that you are just propping up your son. It is not fair to your son, if he does something well, deserves to be rewarded or get a pat on the back and he’s ignored.” Coach McDermott’s Show Link
As with everything in life, one must find a balance.
- THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PLAYER IN THE RELATIONSHIP
As hard as you have it as a Parent/Coach, your child has it tougher. Coach McDermott touched on the fact that it’s sometimes harder for the player to separate Dad or Mom from Coach. A player brings baggage, just as a Parent/Coach brings baggage. Jerry Meyer, college basketball’s all-time assist leader taught us that when we discussed his relationship in playing for his Father, the late, great Don Meyer. JHS Podcast Link Little things, like addressing your parent in the same way on the court carry weight in teammate’s eyes. You can’t say, “C’mon Dad/Mom!” when they get on you as Coach. Between the lines with the McDermott’s, Doug called Greg what everyone else did, “Mac”. Greg told us a great story about Doug being in the locker room in a players only meeting, and some of the upperclassmen started ripping on his Dad a little bit, comparing some of the things they liked more about the way Dana Altman did certain things before “Mac” took over. Then it dawned on them that Doug was in the room. Doug disarmed them by chiming in, “Hey I’m with you guys on some of this stuff!” It was a moment that spoke volumes and helped Doug truly be “one of the guys,” which is what you want for your son or daughter.
Jim Huber is an Elite Guard Skills Instructor for Breakthrough Basketball. He hosts the Jim Huber Podcast and has coached and mentored 40 plus Division 1 players, several of whom have gone on to the NBA. His mission in life is to make the world a better place through sport. Join that mission and become a part of Jimmy’s growing community by subscribing today at JHS Subscribe Page. Contact Jimmy with your thoughts and ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org and like the Jim Huber Show on Facebook! The page is constantly updated with great links and content on our wonderful game.