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In Defense of the So-Called Uncoachable Kids

In Defense of the So-Called Uncoachable Kids

Teamwork. It is something that we all need to learn. I bet every one of us could name someone who doesn’t know how to be a team player. Traditionally, playing team sports is the gold standard on how to figure this little party of life out. While I get that…we are not a team sports house. Well, that isn’t really true. Dewey played ALL the sports. Evan and I less so. I am the most athletically challenged person on the earth and Evan…well….

Evan is smart as a whip, kind, generous and so many other things. He has issues navigating the day, though. Transitions are hard. Situations without choices are difficult.

In some ways, I think that team sports might be a fun way to help all those things. And then I see posts like the one I saw today. You know the one.

“Your child’s success or lack of success in sports does not indicate what kind of parent you are. But having an athlete that is coachable, respectful, a great teammate, mentally tough, resilient and tries their best IS a direct reflection of your parenting.”

Do you know how done I am with people judging behavior based on ME? How about people with kids who have autism? SPD? Anything? And it is not because they are special snowflakes. It is because they CAN’T always be coachable, respectful and all the rest. And while the coaches out there can say “yes, but they do their best”, what about the other parents? They read signs like this and take it as an opening to judge other’s parenting based on how much of a team player a kid may be.

Instead of seeing how hard they are trying. How hard they want to be just like everyone else and be successful. How crushed they are when they can’t control their emotions after being yelled at.

You see, even when teachers and coaches know about a kid and their struggles, parents don’t. I have had people tell me that “well maybe if you tried spanking him” or “well maybe if you were more strict”. Even an administrator that said “well if he tried harder…” Navigating through that at school makes agreeing to do it all again in sports a non-starter. Why would someone with a kid who struggles agree to take part?

And for all the amazing coaches out there who make sure that wouldn’t happen? Thank you! But I will tell you, signs like these that get all the “likes” and “hell yeahs” will keep this mom and her kid out of your sport. Which, in the end, will get you what you want. Nice coachable kids. But know,you are missing out on some great ones too.

I’ve sat with this a few days before posting. I realize that I could be making a mountain out of a molehill. Maybe coaches and parents would be more amazing than one little sign can convey. Maybe. But this mama protects his heart and mine so we won’t take that chance. At least not today.



Thursday 24th of September 2020

my son from the get go needed to learn to do things himself and if you tried to teach him he would resist. I learned to wait for him to be ready for assistance and ask for help. I always considered him to be uncoachable but from as standpoint that it's his nature. He learns by doing things himself and hates to be told what to do. They say these kids will be unemployable as adults but I have faith he will be an entrepreneur, that he will learn what he wants, when he wants and he will create his life for himself. He does sports where he can be independent and focus on just himself and in montessori based school where he can learn hands on. Judging a kid for his ability to be coached is up there with judging a fish for its ability to climb trees. We all have different ways of learning and different strengths. But if they are uncoachable in a way that blames others and doesn't take responsibility for their own mistakes- that is a different story. That is a wounded kid.


Friday 16th of June 2017

Your biggest problem is you assume. I am the parent of a 16 year old multi sport athlete...who just so happens to have an ASD.

He is polite, respectful, listens and while he gets frustrated at times, no one has EVER said he was uncoachable.

They have said he has more heart and drive than any player on the field, they've said he is the most improved, they've said he challenges them as well. Other parents have even addressed a coach and said I don't think you should speak to him in one way or another because the coach was 'being too hard on him'. I told coach 'treat him like all the rest.'

There ARE uncoachable kids but it has nothing to do with disability and EVERYTHING to do with disrespect, lack of initiative, not caring about their team and inability to take personal responsibility.

You are selling your kid short based on an assumption that he or she will be uncoachable and that other team parents or coach will think she is. That's REALLY too bad.

Sometimes in life you have to give people a chance. If you don't you always wonder what MIGHT have been.

Jennifer L Stevens

Wednesday 20th of December 2017

My child had a conflict where she placed blame on another teacher for missing practice arrival time. Coach repetitively told her about taking responsibility. And I get that, we adressed it and tried to move foward. But coach wouldn't. Rode her constantly about that one day. Now my daughter is labeled, and sits on the bench, and was never given another chance. Now I wonder what we do. I want to raise a coachable kid, and don't know how to move foward.

Merry Kuchle

Friday 16th of June 2017

I respect your opinion. Thanks for sharing.