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Benching My Own Child To Teach A Life Lesson

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This resource stems from a question submitted to the Ask PCA blog. Responses come from our experts including PCA Trainers, who lead live group workshops for coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes.

"I am coaching my son's middle-school basketball team, and we were off to a 6-0 start. Then, to discipline my son for getting in trouble with a teacher, I benched him for a game, even though there was no rule that I had to do so, and we lost that game. Now the other players' parents are upset with me for costing the team a win. Did I make a mistake? And what do I do now?"

PCA Response by Eric Eisendrath, Former PCA Lead Trainer
There is no question in my mind that you did the right thing. I applaud your courage to follow through, when it would probably have been easier to have chosen a different course.

At PCA, we believe that teaching life lessons through sports is the number one responsibility of a coach. Clearly, you were making that choice when you elected to bench your son. You have helped him to grasp the importance of respecting others (teachers, coaches, and teammates alike) and to recognize that there are repercussions to any action.

The parents' reaction is troubling, as they seem to miss the long-term benefit -- for your son and theirs -- of a coach who puts life lessons first. When speaking to parents at PCA workshops, I encourage them to look at the "big picture" versus the "little picture" associated with youth sports. Being 7-0 instead of 6-1 in middle-school basketball is an extremely "little picture" concern. However, teaching your son respect and accountability is an invaluable life lesson that will serve well beyond this basketball season!

Download a printable version of this resource, including any additional commentary from PCA, by clicking the PDF below. To read more questions and answers like this, or to submit your own question to the Ask PCA blog, click here.

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