02/05/2019   The most difficult choice

Preliminary remarks


Last Sunday in Mariano Comense we were "pulled by the jacket" in a discussion that was more familiar than sporting.

The argumentu: if a parent must continue to train his child when the child needs a "qualitative leap" that the parent himself recognizes that he is not capable of giving.


The topic was real: on the track three or four athletes were walking and in the stands you could hear the incitements and technical advices of people that we assume were somebody’s next of them.

We could hear: "Come on, go, go fast, force your pace". But in the meantime those who shouted did not notice that the DQ posting board was very precarious.

Typical situation of the biggest problem that arises with a father/mother coach and the judge.


It was a long time since Marcia dal Mondo was thinking about a news on this topic. We therefore asked a coach who is going to be trendy to offer us his contribution in this regard.


We thank him and respect his anonymity decision.






The most difficult choice: train the children or entrust them to a specialist


Parents who train their children, a topic that is very “slippery”; a topic that highlights the complexity of a dual role: that of the parent and that of the coach (who is still an educator).


The history of sport, the Italian one and the international one tout court, offers a myriad of suggestive narratives, related to the stories of fathers - or even mothers - who train their children. Sometimes tormented stories, of overwhelming psychological pressures and successes that enter the myth, like the experience of Andre Agassi, told by himself in the best seller "Open".


One would say: at least Agassi was realized as a champion. But of Andre Agassi there is one.


It cannot be ruled out that there are also winning parent-coach/child-athlete pairs, both in terms of sporting results and in the more difficult level of educational harmony aimed at personal growth. This is the case of Giorgio and Tania Cagnotto, where the first, Tania's father and second best Italian diver of all time, has always known how to perfectly balance the role of technician and parent. But even here, one could say that there is one of Giorgio Cagnotto.


Here, however, I do not want to write whether it is more or less appropriate to be the coach of one's children. Rather I would like to think about the need to make a difficult choice, on the part of the parent-coach, where one recognizes his own technical or emotional-psychological limits, in the relationship with the son/athlete with a clear talent.


In Italy it is very common for the non-expert coach to viscerally bind himself to the young talent who is the product of his nursery; so viscerally as to "imprison him" in the cage of his ambitions - sometimes they are existential gaps to be filled with the successes of the boys he trains and has seen grow. Rare are the cases in which a handover takes place, when the less experienced and competent coach entrusts “his” young athlete to a renowned specialist coach.


Someone could argue, rightly, that in doing so the less experienced technicians will never mature the necessary skills for the so-called high level. It is equally true that gaining experience on the skin of young talents, with the risk of losing them even before their sporting career begins (the one that counts, from the age of 20), is the biggest “crime” that can be perpetrated against an already weak sports system.


I like to imagine a project for the high level in sport where the basic or less experienced technicians, once entrusted with their talents to specialist coaches of proven international experience, can “do an apprenticeship” with the latter; and this would have a double positive impact: make the change in the young athlete's sporting life less traumatic, and offer quality training opportunities for the base technician.


As coach of race walking I believe that the problems so far expressed concern, dramatically, also my environment.


I like this beautiful phrase that appeared on a wall chart in a gym of a club:

"Dear parents, remember that the coach has the task of coaching, the judge/referee to judge, the child to play. Your background is to encourage the team, so don't think about technical advice. Have fun too»



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