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Sport and coach having favourites


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#1 knottygirl

Posted 05 August 2019 - 11:26 PM

My son competes in a sport (individual). His friend from club also competes and always wins. Like from the time they started competing he won everything he has never lost a comp. he got silver once and cried. (My son got bronze and was consoling him. Literally crying as he accepted his silver medal. And not tears of happiness either)

My son doesn’t win all the time. Initially he was unlucky as he is couple months older than his friend and so he was in the older group and his friend in the younger group. They also changed the age range so it was for example 7-8 when my son was 7 and then the following year it was 5-7 and 8-9. So he had his first 2 years as being the absolute youngest in the group. And didn’t win a thing. His friend was the oldest in both years and won everything.

He tries really hard. He has won a couple times after several years of competing but it’s not easy for him.  His friend is the star. Like everyone at the club fawns over him. All the coaches the refs everyone they are falling over themselves to help him. The coach was watching the other boy practice the other day, and then my son asked him to watch his practice also as he wanted some advice and the coach just brushed him off. Said maybe later and walked away then left.

How do I help him deal with this? When he gets upset that people there ignore him and his friend gets all the support and help, what do I say? Cause it’s pretty much true.  

They compete against each other too at the club. My son beat him the other day quite convincingly and he again ran off upset.

He loves the sport but I’m starting to think that it’s damaging his self esteem as he thinks he’s hopeless because they don’t notice him.

#2 doubledelight

Posted 06 August 2019 - 06:20 AM

Unfortunately this is the reality of life.  You need to try and get him to reframe his thinking.  Although you compete externally your competition comes internally.

Is there an opportunity for external coaching?  Does your sport offer training squads or programs that aren't club based?  Perhaps you need to look at changing clubs.

Have him benchmark himself not on the other competitors but on PBs and goals that he sets personally.

There is always someone "better" or luckier but we determine our own worth.

#3 Prancer is coming

Posted 06 August 2019 - 06:43 AM

We probably have this at a club we are involved in.  Made a bit worse by the kid being a bit obnoxious and the parents very focused on winning, when the vibe of the club is more relaxed.  

But the kid is good and wins.  Our club rarely wins anything and often is at the back of the pack, so I totally get why the coaches may give him more attention as they feel rewarded by his results.  And he probably needs that extra attention as his skills are above everyone else’s.

The other thing about this kid is he does heaps of practice, more in another sport directly related to ours that totally benefits our club.  So if DS ever does get grumpy, I just remind him of the hours this other kid puts in and that if he wanted to, he could train more too.  As well as being positive about his own achievements.  My DD can beat this other kid in one area and sometimes keeps up with him in another area, which the kid does not like, but does not tantrum over.  Sometimes when I hear the kid saying how he is the best and how wonderful he is I may remind him how my kid was pretty close (particularly when he altered the course to make sure he won!).

I also make the effort to like the kid and to praise him for his achievements, and think it is important for my kid to see this too.  My kid is not that competitive or phased, just makes the occasional comment about it being unfair, but that is more about him not being happy with where he placed, which I think is something for us to work in rather than putting it back on the other kid.  I also help out with the team, so make sure there is plenty of positive feedback for the other kids.

#4 knottygirl

Posted 06 August 2019 - 09:25 AM

View Postdoubledelight, on 06 August 2019 - 06:20 AM, said:

Unfortunately this is the reality of life.  You need to try and get him to reframe his thinking.  Although you compete externally your competition comes internally.

Is there an opportunity for external coaching?  Does your sport offer training squads or programs that aren't club based?  Perhaps you need to look at changing clubs.

Have him benchmark himself not on the other competitors but on PBs and goals that he sets personally.

There is always someone "better" or luckier but we determine our own worth.

I have thought about external coaching. He doesn’t want to change clubs as he loves the club and been part of it for some time.

I did have someone in mind for external coaching but would cost for private lesson and also some distance away.  

I do remind him of the hours practice his friend puts in. It’s not that his friend wins that worries him he is happy for him. It’s more that he feels like his friend is the only one that matters to the coach. Which is basically true. The coach does ignore him.

They were in a big comp few weeks ago and first time my son competed in this one. He didn’t win but huge achievement for him to even qualify. Last year he didn’t. All the coaches fb posts were about the other boy winning. There were pictures of the other boy competing ect. Nothing about my son it was like he wasn’t even there. No congratulations on qualifying or anything.

#5 22Fruitmincepies

Posted 06 August 2019 - 09:55 AM

Do you think the coach feels like this kid could get to the top of the sport, and wants to be the one who identifies and nurtures the talent? So even though your child is doing well, he feels less invested in him.

#6 decisionsdecisions

Posted 06 August 2019 - 10:35 AM

Is the coach coaching for a living?  I can see how he/she would be biased towards the kid who is having success which may in turn bring him/her more business (may explain the FB posts).  

However that doesn't make the bias fair.  I don't know how you can approach this without it appearing to be a case of sour grapes (which in no way am I suggesting it is).  You have a very valid point and all the kids should be recognised by their coach for the hard work and time they put in.

The coach not wanting to spend an equal amount of time watching your son practice/provide advice would be the thing that would upset me, as it has your son.  Assuming you are paying the same fees it is the least you should expect.

#7 Cat12

Posted 06 August 2019 - 10:37 AM

I’m pretty upfront so I’d just say to the coach that it seems like he is being a bit one sided in his attention and could he check that.

My sons soccer team has a really young coach this year (he’s about 16, coaching 9year olds). The first couple of games I noticed he was benching the girls more than the boys which made me absolutely furious.

I was going to make him aware he was doing it, but monitored a bit more closely and it evened out after a couple of games.

I did speak up about a sibling of a player being brought in to score goals for us when we already had 5 subs. That hasn’t happened again!

Yea kids need more resilience, but if there is a genuine lack of fairness, surely it’s our job to teach them not to tolerate that? It’s much harder when it’s your own child your standing up for and not someone else’s so it can seem like you’re motivated by sour grapes.

Cat



#8 CallMeFeral

Posted 06 August 2019 - 10:57 AM

Can you talk to the coach?

Some level of that treatment is probably normal but they seem to be taking it up a notch. Is it possible to request a meeting with the coach, and try to phrase things in an attacking way have a conversation like

- I know X is great at this sport and you must have high hopes for him. I notice that you watch his games and offer him tips, congratulate him on his wins, and that tends to overshadow the acheivements of the other kids. Have you thought about how that might look and feel to the other kids?

- I have noticed that my son is getting quite dispirited about his acheivements not being noticed, like when he qualified for X, and about not being given opportunities to improve, like when he asked you to watch his training and give him tips. He was really hurt as he reached out, but feels like whatever he does is ignored, although I'm sure that wasn't your intent. He tries really hard and while he may not be at the level of X, I would like him to feel like his perseverance is valued and people around him are supporting him. Do think there is a way that you could convey that while still supporting X?

The coach might be a douche and just get defensive and change nothing. Or they might just be a bit oblivious and single minded - once pointed out perhaps he will make some attempt to be more inclusive. All you can do is try.

I'm focusing on the coach because I'm getting the feeling that your son would be quite ok with the other boy winning and getting kudos for winning if it didn't come with the accompanying invisibility to his own coach (which frankly is pathetic on the coach's behalf).

#9 born.a.girl

Posted 06 August 2019 - 10:59 AM

View Postdecisionsdecisions, on 06 August 2019 - 10:35 AM, said:

Is the coach coaching for a living?  I can see how he/she would be biased towards the kid who is having success which may in turn bring him/her more business (may explain the FB posts).  

However that doesn't make the bias fair.  I don't know how you can approach this without it appearing to be a case of sour grapes (which in no way am I suggesting it is).  You have a very valid point and all the kids should be recognised by their coach for the hard work and time they put in.

The coach not wanting to spend an equal amount of time watching your son practice/provide advice would be the thing that would upset me, as it has your son.  Assuming you are paying the same fees it is the least you should expect.


Good points.

I naively thought that coaches/dance teachers etc would be even handed with their praise and criticism,  assuming that it was a professional requirement.

Discovered, though, that they're human, and just as often deeply flawed as the rest of us, which can be very frustrating when they treat students differently.  Sometimes it's a personality clash too, which is up to the adult to manage.


One dance teacher never stopped telling our daughter off, once quite severely when she didn't realise I was within earshot. When daughter explained that teacher B had sent her to do just what she was doing, no apology, told her off for for not moving fast enough - she'd just got to where she was going.  All other teachers really liked her.

#10 ChokRoks

Posted 06 August 2019 - 11:25 AM

I just wanted to offer a different perspective.  I have coached a team sport for a long time, but also get requests to do extra work with kids individually, and will sometimes take time within a team session to walk a particular child through something.  I don't have time to accommodate every request for extra help, and within team sessions, it makes sense to spend 5 minutes with a kid who is going to go home and practice what they've been shown.

Every now and then, a persistent request for extra help comes from a player with poor work ethic; a player who refuses to address basic fitness issues or consistently fails to respond to feedback.  I am sure that the parents of these players perceive me as playing favourites when I decide not to do extra work with their child, but I'm actually trying not to waste their time and money.  It's possible that the coach feels that when your child has requested feedback in the past and it has been provided, your child has not really responded to that feedback.  I.e., coach may have said "you have to lift your arm higher / bend your back knee more / use the other hand" but your child's arm is still too low, knee is still too straight, is still using the wrong hand, etc.  If you feel like you're talking to a brick wall, it's hard to keep doing so enthusiastically.

Given your description, I highly doubt your child falls into that category, but it is worth considering whether that is playing a role in the coach's behaviour.  Not because it would justify being ignored, but because you're likely to get a better hearing if you sound empathetic to the coach's perspective.

Of the two children you've described, yours sounds like the one with better long term prospects.  He can cope with losing, and has persisted without external validation for his efforts.  He is competitive with a standout athlete who is similar to him in age, but wins more by virtue of competing in a different competition.  It's not entirely unlike a player winning a lower division all the time but refusing to move to a higher division because he won't get as many trophies.

Some coaches are horrible and there's little you can do about it.  I would be emphasising to your son that his achievements, in context, have been fantastic, and as he progresses he will encounter different coaches who will value his effort more highly.  It sounds like he's young to be learning that lesson, but also like he's doing really well.  His friend could be out of the sport very quickly if he's about to move up an age group and stop winning all the time.

Finally, I would not be raising the name of another child if you decide to talk to the coach.  Talk about what can be done to help your child, don't put it in contrast to someone else.  I won't discuss any children except a parent's own with them, and if parents bring another child into the conversation it can make it hard for me to move forward.  The coach will likely know exactly what you're talking about anyway.

#11 knottygirl

Posted 06 August 2019 - 11:38 AM

View PostChokRoks, on 06 August 2019 - 11:25 AM, said:

I just wanted to offer a different perspective.  I have coached a team sport for a long time, but also get requests to do extra work with kids individually, and will sometimes take time within a team session to walk a particular child through something.  I don't have time to accommodate every request for extra help, and within team sessions, it makes sense to spend 5 minutes with a kid who is going to go home and practice what they've been shown.

Every now and then, a persistent request for extra help comes from a player with poor work ethic; a player who refuses to address basic fitness issues or consistently fails to respond to feedback.  I am sure that the parents of these players perceive me as playing favourites when I decide not to do extra work with their child, but I'm actually trying not to waste their time and money.  It's possible that the coach feels that when your child has requested feedback in the past and it has been provided, your child has not really responded to that feedback.  I.e., coach may have said "you have to lift your arm higher / bend your back knee more / use the other hand" but your child's arm is still too low, knee is still too straight, is still using the wrong hand, etc.  If you feel like you're talking to a brick wall, it's hard to keep doing so enthusiastically.

Given your description, I highly doubt your child falls into that category, but it is worth considering whether that is playing a role in the coach's behaviour.  Not because it would justify being ignored, but because you're likely to get a better hearing if you sound empathetic to the coach's perspective.

Of the two children you've described, yours sounds like the one with better long term prospects.  He can cope with losing, and has persisted without external validation for his efforts.  He is competitive with a standout athlete who is similar to him in age, but wins more by virtue of competing in a different competition.  It's not entirely unlike a player winning a lower division all the time but refusing to move to a higher division because he won't get as many trophies.

Some coaches are horrible and there's little you can do about it.  I would be emphasising to your son that his achievements, in context, have been fantastic, and as he progresses he will encounter different coaches who will value his effort more highly.  It sounds like he's young to be learning that lesson, but also like he's doing really well.  His friend could be out of the sport very quickly if he's about to move up an age group and stop winning all the time.

Finally, I would not be raising the name of another child if you decide to talk to the coach.  Talk about what can be done to help your child, don't put it in contrast to someone else.  I won't discuss any children except a parent's own with them, and if parents bring another child into the conversation it can make it hard for me to move forward.  The coach will likely know exactly what you're talking about anyway.

Thank you that is really well put.

He does love the sport and enjoys competing.  I just hate that he feels like he’s terrible cause he’s ignored. And the thing is, he is really good.

He had an amazing coach from another club at the last comp helping him on the day. At that comp they are assigned a coach for the day. He said that his first 7 big comps he won nothing. That is who I could potentially get private lessons from but then I don’t know what the politics of that would be.

It’s run as a business so yes I do see why they use the other boy for promotions ect. But it does send the wrong message. My son has no idea about the fb posts as I don’t show or tell him.  

I do tell him all this stuff, he’s competing against older kids so he will end up better in the long run, qualifying is a huge achievement in itself ect.

In regards to asking the coach to watch him, he had been practicing for an hour on his own, and the competition was in 2 days time. The coach came over to watch the other boy and give him some tips on things to improve before the competition. Then when my son asked he just brushed him aside. So it wasn’t like he is constantly asking for help or anything it was to help with his last minute preparation. He wasn’t in a hurry either he walked off to chat to someone then sat down on his phone for abit. Then just left to go home.

#12 Fourteenyears

Posted 06 August 2019 - 01:38 PM

What advice would you give somebody with the same question.

My bottom line has always been that if an entrenched coaching situation is negatively affecting a kid’s self esteem or wellbeing, then it is time for a new club.

Kids always protest new clubs.  They like the safety of the known and they don’t want to leave their friends.  

As adults, it is up to us to not allow them to be gaslighted into believing that unfairness shouldn’t be questioned.    A little bit of favouritism is, alas, only human.  (Although the more grown up adults generally manage to keep it a secret.). A lot of favouritism to the point where you aren’t even getting the basic coaching you are paying for is just not good enough.

So the questions are:

Is anything realistically likely to change?

What is the outcome likely to be if nothing changes?

Are you willing to risk the consequences of the behaviour continuing?

Is it one of those clubs where if you leave it is like you have died and nobody mentions you again?  Or could you leave and come back down the track?   Because knowing a decision to try elsewhere is reversible might make a difference.





#13 Mollycoddle

Posted 06 August 2019 - 04:29 PM

View PostCat12, on 06 August 2019 - 10:37 AM, said:

It’s much harder when it’s your own child your standing up for and not someone else’s so it can seem like you’re motivated by sour grapes.


OP do you have a team manager? If you have a word in their ear they might be well placed to talk to the coach, that way it's not coming directly from you. You never know, there may well be other kids and parents feeling the same way you are.

#14 Tokra

Posted 01 September 2019 - 02:07 PM

I really dislike this about kids sport. It can really mess with a kids confidence and as we've seen, it can affect them later in life as well.

#15 MarciaB

Posted 01 September 2019 - 06:42 PM

So your son is 9/10 now?

I am assuming that coach is not a volunteer (ie you are paying for lessons/coaching??)

I would ask the coach for a meeting including yourself and your son.  Phone the coach in advance or email and run through what you would like to discuss.

Tell the coach your son is getting frustrated as he isn't improving as he would like.  Suggest that it would be helpful to him if the coach could give him one thing to focus on for the next 3-6 months and one goal (for example qualifying for another competition; beating his previous time/score in an event).  As for one technique issue for him to work on in practice.

Ask if it is possible to catch up again in 3-6 months to check how he is going.

Leave the other kid out of the conversation.  If the coachbrings him up (ie "you need to be more like xx".  If only you had the start/finish of xx") - divert the conversation ie "yes xx is doing very well, however could we please just focus on ds right now".

Finally take heart that in almost EVERY sport - your 10 year old champion will not be the 16 yo champion.  They all grow and develop differently.




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