Meet: Amy McDonald
Roles: Head coach Rangers WFC & Scottish FA under 15 assistant coach
UEFA A Licence Holder.
Can you give us a bit of background information on yourself?
Amy McDonald, Cambuslang (Glasgow), Previously head of Youth at Glasgow City FC, Currently west region u16 squad, west region performance hub coach, Scottish FA under 15 assistant coach. Head coach Rangers WFC.
How would you define a parent(s) role within the youth sports?
I would define the role of a parent to support their child in understanding their emotions in relation to sport and helping them understand the development processes they may go through. This means listening to their child’s feelings and helping them process them. This may be supporting them to speak to the coach, understand what they may have to do to improve or dips in performances and why this may happen.
What are the benefits of being positive youth sports parents?
Increased level of communication between coach-child-parent, trust, improved knowledge, same information provided to the athlete pre and post-match, increased the level of enjoyment and participation, parent-child relationship etc.)
I think it allows the parents to enjoy the experience more. Sport can equip your child to deal with situations they may face in workplaces in future. For example, if they leave their age group and don’t like a new coach. They may face the same in they get a promotion at work. It doesn’t mean that they stop going. They must try and work through it. Sometimes by parents enforcing their view without even knowing it, you are deterring your child. Show your child the time and patience they were afforded in learning math and English. You will reap the rewards.
What advice would you give any youth sport participator, that has the ambition, drive and commitment to reach the highest level?
- Advice to the player
It’s not easy and there will be times that you want to give in. That Players you have played with progress quicker than you or grow taller than you. You must focus on you. Be selfless, be the best at every training session and most importantly be reflective. Did you do everything you could do to be the best you can be? Always be honest with yourself. Know that deep down you set your own standards and that you control your future more than anyone else.
- Advice to the parents
Development is complexed. Remember being a graduate or school leaver that thought they knew absolutely everything? Most people always say “if only I knew then what I do now”. Teach it to your child. Tell them how many years and how hard it was to be the best version of you and how you had to keep learning and developing. Imagine being defined by one game or one race. Your child is beautiful and amazing for so many other reasons. Make sure they know it.
In your experience as a coach, how does negative approaches from the parents, effect the player(s) short & long term?
We all know when we have done something wrong. A bad pass, a misplaced touch or dropped the ball. Your child does too. Now so many children have low self-esteem and confidence. They are surrounded by perfection on every medium possible Facebook, twitter, snapchat or Instagram. You should love your child unconditionally and show them that. Don’t allow it to define your relationship with them. I have seen it have the greatest of impacts. Through a look or a tilt of the head. To reinforce in that moment every single feeling your child has had of being a failure reinforced by one thing. You. Imagine your child being 25 and thinking what if? What if my parents supported me at sport instead of reinforcing how bad I was? Or 16 and giving up because they cannot stand the pressure you placed them under? It happens every single day. Don’t let it be you. Don’t let it be your child.
What advice would you give coaches regarding youth sports parents?
Educate yourself. Understand your philosophy. Educate the parents. Help them understand the process and what the result might be but emphasise it is not solely your responsibility. Set boundaries. Be clear about when you can be contacted and when you cannot be. What you will discuss and what you cannot discuss. Above everything place the player at the heart of every decision you make.
What advice would you give youth sports parents for the car journey to and from youth sports practices and/or games?
Do not give your opinion. Ask them. How do you think you done today? How did your coach say you done? How does that make you feel? How are you going to change/improve that? Emphasise that practice will make it better and hard work. Tell them you believe that with both they will get better. Just like math, English or biology. Somethings will come easier than other’s but you know through determination and hard work they will get it eventually.
What types of behaviours/mannerisms/comments would you encourage parents to demonstrate?
Supportive and interested. Re-inforce the positives. Don’t be aggressive and emotional. Show emotional control. Your child has to learn it. Before training/matches reflect on what they done the night before and tell them to try their best. After training/matches ask them all the open-ended questions. Don’t rhyme off your thoughts or feelings. Your child thoughts and feelings are the most important thing. You want your child to talk to you and help them process the emotions sport can provoque. Don’t shut off that channel by acting irrationally so they are frightened to speak or to say certain things.
What is next for you as a coach / club / organisation?
We must continue to believe in the process. To grow the culture and the club. To enhance everyone’s understanding parents, players and coaches in what we are trying to achieve. It will not happen over-night but we know it will happen if we continue to do the right things and always learn and grow together.
You can find more about Amy on these social media outlets:
Massive thank you to, Amy for taking the time to complete the following interview questions.