As you know we consider your kart experience here at KAM Kartway part of the child’s Driver Development Program. And because it’s not an organized mainstream team sport with specific sports associations to govern and manage with expert board members and highly experienced Coaching staffs, you the parent are in charge of everything associated with your child’s youth sport of choice.
You wear a lot of hats: you are the Coach, the Crew Chief, Team Owner, Marketing representative, Sponsor – just to name the basics. Race Moms help in many ways but it’s mainly the Race Dad who takes on the most responsibility and being the Coach, in my opinion is the most important. You have to not only learn the sport and mechanics behind it yourself, but then you have to train your driver. It’s not an easy job to take on and a lot parents get overwhelmed or set expectations too high. This is not a pee-wee football team where your odds are 50/50 of winning the game and even if your child sits on the bench most of the game he will still get the accolades a huge trophy at the end of the season. And these days it seems that it doesn’t matter if they go to playoffs or even finish at the top level of the league – they all still get celebrated as star players with a huge trophy and end of season party. It’s the “Participation Trophy” epidemic that is diluting youth sports and corrupting kids in general, turning them into an entitled generation.
That is not how it is in Karting [Youth Racing], especially in the Driver Development Program phase of a child’s racing career.
Racing is hard and technically challenging that takes an expertise skill set to successfully perform the sport. Dad, you have a lot on your plate because you are the Coach and your the Crew Chief. You have have a lot to learn and if you want good results, you have to learn it fast. But you do have to learn. You have never been a Coach of youth racing before. Even if you are a race fan, you didn’t know all the operating and procedural rules that govern the sport. You most likely didn’t know the first thing about kart set-up or motor tuning when you started. But you learned.
But again the biggest job you have right not is that of being your driver’s Coach. You can’t just be his #1 Fan and proud parent who expects to win at everything, and you have to put away any ego that your parental instinct may bring forth – Remember, you are not a “Pee-Wee Football Dad”, nor can you act like one. You can’t yell at the officials for bad calls or blame the Coaches for poor results like they do…..because:
You ARE the Coach.
I found this great website for Coaches and they had a blog post: “101 Coaching tips” (you can read it in full here: WG Coaching List of 101 Coaching Tips.) I took what I thought were the top 21 from the list and I think they apply to you Race Parents – Please read and maybe even print out and post to the trailer for inspiration and motivation. Here they are:
- Develop communication skills and never stop trying to improve them.
- Never stop learning. Learning is for life.
- Be open-minded. Never say never.
- What you may lack in knowledge, make up for with enthusiasm, desire, and passion. (GOOD ONE!)
- Be a role model.
- Accept constructive criticism as a positive. Learn from Mistakes and take steps to improve from the experience and move on. (This applies to the Driver as well!!)
- Allocate time for personal health and fitness.
- Keep detailed diary and record of work actually done by the athletes not just what was planned to be done. [I have Race Data sheet and Driver Workbook that I’ve created to help you with this one. Go to the Forms page to download them.]
- Embrace effective change. (As you go through the ladder steps of Driver Development, you will experience changes with each higher level of competition.)
- Use sports science wisely. The art of coaching drives the science of performance. [Do you know what the apex of a corner is?]
- Seek information – don’t wait for the “secret of success” to fall in your lap. [There are a lot of good books on karting and online forums to ask questions or get advice – like Bob’s 4 Cycle and Facebook Group pages like Ron’s 2 Cycle and Kart Tech. If you have a questions, post it on KAM’s Facebook page as well!!]
- Coach with your heart but don’t forget the basics. [They have to learn from their mistakes so let them make them.]
- Believe in our athlete – they believe in you.
- Attitude + application + ability = achievement. [I stress Ability because some kids take time (age and maturity) before they develop their Ability in a division.]
- Persistance pays – never give up.
- Give an ounce of information and a ton of practice. (Are you taking advantage of the track staying open after races just so you can practice?)
- Communicate – clearly, concisely, calmly, constructively, consistently, and cleverly.
- Seek out a critical friend. They are your greatest asset.
- Help develop your sport and not just your athlete. (MY FAVORITE! Be an Outlaw Kart Racing champion, promote the sport and support those who support you.)
Okay while the above 20 are great and crucial basic coaching advice that all parents should adhere to, here is number 21 that I think is equally important and totally applies as well: #21 – “Learn basic Business skills. Make Coaching [and Team Ownership] your business!” I stress this a lot with parents and it’s true. Treat your Race Team like a business with a Marketing Plan, Driver Development Plan, Budget, Mission Statement, Advertising and Sponsorship Proposals, etc. I post a lot to the KAM Blog and to Executive Speed Marketing on business related matters so be sure to browse around to get inspiration and ideas on what you should be doing.
Now it’s your turn.
Let me know what you think. Do you have a good Coaching rule or advice that you go by? Comment on this article and let us know.
Check out these books I found on Amazon.com: