Parents: Follow the lead of Missouri basketball coach and father of 3
By Greg Bach
University of Missouri basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, father of three, understands as well as anyone the many challenges that accompany coaching kids these days.
So when the former Purdue standout attends his kids’ sports events he watches – not interferes – with the action.
“The thing that I always try to gauge is if you’re being treated fair,” says Martin. “And what I mean by that is you have to earn everything you get. If you’re doing battle in competition with someone else you have to earn it. So my gauge as a coach as I’m watching them coach my children is if they are getting an opportunity to be successful.”
Those are pretty important words to keep in mind regardless of what sport is being coached. Every child needs an opportunity to learn, develop and contribute – regardless of skill level or experience with the sport.
“Whether or not they’re the starter, they have to compete for that,” Martin says. “That’s not my job as a parent to say, ‘OK, my kid should be this or that.’ As long as they have an opportunity it’s up to my kids to do it. So for me, because I’ve been in coaching so long, I sit back and watch as a fan. I’m not sitting and judging and critiquing the coach because I know what goes on behind the scene and it’s not as easy as it looks.”
IT’S NOT THE FINAL DESTINATION
“As a youth coach you have to help kids understand that the purpose and the process is the biggest key in going through their learning,” Martin says. “Because they are kids, that means this is not their final destination. They will get older, and they will get better, and they’ll become more mature. So, going through the process there will be a tomorrow, so continue to encourage them to play as hard as they can play and in the process gain a level of mental and physical toughness. And in the end, help them push past the hard part, because it will help them through life, whether they become a professional or not. Those things will help them through life and that’s the biggest thing.”
ENCOURAGE KIDS TO KEEP THEIR HEAD UP
“Even the professional teams make mistakes,” Martin says. “They break down on plays and they have struggles. Young players going through it shouldn’t feel bad because everybody goes through it. But as a young man or young lady, what happens when they have struggles is they think everything is magnified and the whole world is looking at them and that’s the point you try to get them to overcome. It’s a team sport and everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has those nights. And that’s the part as a coach you want to help them get through. Because everybody goes through it. Even me as a coach, I have those struggles.”
HONESTY – IT’S THE BEST POLICY
“You have to be honest when you are assessing them,” Martin says. “Everybody can’t be the leading scorer. So it’s about understanding what it takes for the team to be successful. It’s OK for multiple guys to have success in different roles. Some can be great rebounders; some are better shooters or better drivers. So, I think as a coach being honest and being as fair as possible and not lying to them, and not necessarily telling them what they want to hear because as a coach you know what it takes.”
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