Coach Parenting: Raising Teenagers with Advice from Pro Football's Greatest Head Coaches

Coach Parenting: Raising Teenagers with Advice from Pro Football's Greatest Head Coaches

by Erika Katz


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Did you ever wonder why your teenagers listen to their coaches and not to you? It’s because their coaches hold them accountable! Show up on time or get benched! If you want to turn your family into a championship team, take a page out of the playbook of the NFL’s greatest head coaches and start parenting like a coach!

Between the constant texting, crazy sleep habits, insatiable appetites, and pushback at every turn, it’s easy to wonder how you’re going to raise your sons and daughters to be responsible young adults. Grab your clipboard, because Erika Katz has sought the advice of Super Bowl-winning head coaches John Harbaugh, Tom Coughlin, Jimmy Johnson, Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Howie Long, and so many more! Katz took their coaching advice and developed a parenting technique that is life changing for parents of teenagers. Katz’s unprecedented access to these renowned coaches provides parents with a guide to commanding the respect of their home and getting the whole family to work toward common goals! Through entertaining anecdotes and easy-to-follow tips, Coach Parenting gives parents the tools they need to put their teenage sons and daughters on the path to success!

Erika Katz is a parenting expert regularly featured on The Today Show, Fox News, The Doctors, Access Hollywood, Access Hollywood Live, Inside Edition, NBC News 4 New York, Fox 5 New York, CBS2 New York, PIX11 News, and Telemundo.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781632991430
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group, LLC
Publication date: 08/24/2017
Pages: 202
Sales rank: 275,510
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.46(d)

About the Author

Erika Katz is a parenting expert regularly featured on The Today Show, Fox News, The Doctors, Access Hollywood, Access Hollywood Live, Inside Edition, NBC News 4 New York, Fox 5 New York, CBS2 New York, PIX11 News, and Telemundo.

Read an Excerpt



The National Football League has thirty-two teams. Each team is made up of uniquely talented players and led by a head coach whose main responsibility is to help the team work together to make plays, score touchdowns, and win games. The head coach recognizes the strengths and weaknesses of the players and finds different ways to motivate them, knowing each player responds to a different approach. In addition to communicating effectively with players who are usually twenty, thirty, or even forty years their junior, a head coach must be able to effect change within the team, schedule every minute of the players' time, and ensure the players are studying and eating a proper diet. Wait — am I talking about an NFL head coach or me?

Football coaches are confronted with unexpected situations at every turn. They have to be master motivators, always watching, correcting, and pushing their players to be their best by using techniques they have mastered throughout their careers. Many of these brilliant coaches and their players have shared their secrets with me, so you and I can parent just like coaches coach!

The Coach Parent

The helicopter parent does their kids' homework, calls the teacher to get a grade changed, or tries to get the ballet teacher fired for not giving their child the lead in The Nutcracker. The coach parent uses the poor grade and the disappointment of not getting the part to impart life lessons on their teen. The free-range parent lets their teen come home when they want and set their own rules. The coach parent gives their teen structure by requiring them to adhere to a schedule, a curfew, and a code of conduct.

Jimmy Johnson, the former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, explained,

"I think the style that works best depends on your personality. Some people coach with fear and others are players' coaches, but no matter what your style, all coaches have to demand the respect of the players."

You do not have to change who you are or become a drill sergeant to be an effective parent. You have to implement a system where your kids follow your rules and respect the limits you set. They are older now (and possibly bigger than you are), so determining consequences for bad behavior is more of a challenge than just putting them in a time-out. Respect for your authority is the ultimate goal of the coach parent.

It's time to take over as head coach of your family! You will sweat the details, make a game plan for the season, and execute the plays. You can't cut, trade, or draft, so you have to work with the team you've got!

In the words of Super Bowl–winning head coach Dick Vermeil, "We gotta go to work!"

What Makes a Great Coach (or a Great Coach Parent)?

I asked broadcaster Bob Costas what he thought were the most important characteristics of a successful head football coach. He explained:

"We associate the most successful coaches with three key elements: meticulous preparation, flexibility, and the respect of the locker room.

Preparation. You have to prepare because your opponent is prepared. You have to put in the pregame work and do the planning.

Flexibility. You have to have a willingness to adapt to your personnel. When Don Shula [former head coach of the Miami Dolphins] had a great defense and running game in Miami, he also had a Hall of Fame quarterback in Bob Griese. They threw the ball relatively infrequently, but given their overall strengths, they went to three Super Bowls and had one perfect season. But after they got Dan Marino and a strong group of receivers, Shula was willing to adjust his approach to his personnel and the changing circumstances. Marino wound up throwing forty-eight touchdown passes in just his second season, and the Dolphins went to the Super Bowl again.

Respect. A successful coach has to have the respect of the locker room. If not the love and affection of it, he has to have the respect."

Like a head football coach, you as the coach parent must also prepare your kids to the best of your ability, be flexible to the individual needs of each of your children, and command the respect of everyone in your household. This is no small task, especially if your teenagers have different interests and temperaments. To simplify this task, let's lay out your most important duties as head coach of your family.

Responsibilities of the Coach Parent

A head football coach creates a system where players can play to their strengths and improve upon their weaknesses. The system enables the players to take what they learn in practice and make the right decisions when they are playing a game. You, as the coach parent, will create a similar system with these elements:

• Clear-cut rules

• Defined expectations

• Pre-set consequences

This allows your teens to make their own choices within the boundaries of the system. As your children learn to exercise good judgment in precarious situations, the system gives them the strength to resist peer pressure and negative distractions in real-world situations that test or tempt them.

Remember, your teens are your rookie players and their greatest asset is their fearlessness. They are excited and ready to play but still lack the judgment and experience to call the plays.

Play to Win

When Bob Costas said successful coaches have "meticulous preparation," I sought the advice of Mike Shanahan, winner of two Super Bowls as the former head coach of the Denver Broncos — and highly regarded for his intense preparation. We talked about his experience coaching with his son, Kyle, who is now the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

"When Kyle and I coached together, we would go through every situation. What would we have done differently if we had to do it over again? You try to eliminate mistakes. We would go through every situation on our side and the other side. We asked ourselves, 'Was this the best thing to do?' That's just preparation."

As a coach parent, you prepare your teenagers for situations they will face when you are not around. While you may think your kids would do the right thing when presented with a complex problem, many situations are not black and white.

Here are three scenarios your teenager may have or could encounter:

1. Your daughter's English teacher leaves the final exam in the lunchroom by accident, and your daughter sees the questions on the first page. Should she use that information to get a leg up or tell her teacher she saw it?

2. Your son's friend is the designated driver but has one beer at a party. Should your son still drive home with his friend?

3. A girl in your son's class sends him a topless photo. Does he share it with friends, keep it, or delete it?

You know the right choice in each scenario, but does your teen? That's where the preparation comes into play.

Adapt to Your Players

One of the toughest parts of coaching is working with the different personalities of everyone on your team. In your family, you may have three different children who need to be parented with three different approaches. Coach Mariucci noted the parallels between coaching and parenting.

"Every athlete is different, just like every child is different. I have three boys and a daughter, and they each required different types of motivation and discipline. Some of my players needed a kick in the butt, while others just needed some encouragement and a compliment."

To adapt your parenting style to each one of your kids, start with an even playing field and establish a few constants to work with both the sensitive child and the one who doesn't rattle easily.

Be Enthusiastic

As a full-time director of the Sports Academy at Brookwood Camps, former Miami Dolphins starting quarterback Jay Fiedler coaches tweens and teen boys and girls all summer long. During his ten-year career in the NFL, Jay played for many different coaches. He talked about his NFL experience and how he has brought that into coaching the kids in his camp.

"When I played for the Miami Dolphins under head coach Dave Wannstedt, he was always enthusiastic. His message to us was that enthusiasm is contagious, even if it was false enthusiasm. Even if you were having a tough day and had to fake it, you had to fake that you were out there, ready to go in order to lift your teammates."

After speaking with Jay, I asked Coach Wannstedt why coaching enthusiasm was so important.

"We accomplish more with a positive attitude. Enthusiasm is contagious, just like a bad attitude is contagious. As a coach, sometimes I had to force it. If I wasn't excited, how could the players and other coaches be excited? And sometimes, in my heart, I wasn't excited, but it was my job to get my players enthusiastic and ready to work."

As a parent, it can be hard to be enthusiastic, especially when you have teenagers with the body clocks of a nocturnal animal. When your kids want to talk at 11:15 p.m., you may be exhausted, but you need to be there — excited to listen — when they want to share. It's during those times that you find out about their lives, their friends, and their hopes and dreams.

Show Your Love

If you watch the biggest, baddest head coaches and football players, they give each other hugs, pats on the back, and are not afraid to show affection.

Coach Vermeil, the former head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams, and Kansas City Chiefs, was as tough a football coach as you could find. But he wasn't afraid to hug his players and tell them he loved them. This is his philosophy:

"If they know you care, they will know you are doing it for all the right reasons. Very few people can give their best to those who care about them the least."

Often, we think to be firm we need to be distant or detached. But love and affection are key elements in coach parenting. If, by nature, you are not affectionate, let down your guard and say "I love you" when you hang up the phone or say good night. For dads: When you shake your son's hand, pull him toward you and give him a pat on the back. Put your arm around your daughter and tell her you are proud of her. For moms: Boys tend to shy away from mom's affection when they are teenagers, but you can tell them you love them and give them a pat on the back. If your daughter is not into being kissed by you, at least tell her how special she is to you. Showing love and affection gives your kids a valuable sense of security knowing you will always love them and be there for them.

Always Leave Them with Something

My neighbor is the mother of a lovable sixteen-year-old boy who is easily swayed by peer pressure. One night, he and his friends thought it would be funny to take some of the neighbors' trash cans and move them to a nearby pond. The cops caught them, and they were arrested. Any parent in the heat of the moment would want to lash out at those kids. But once they got arrested, it was pretty obvious to the boys that they had done a stupid thing.

Dr. Mark Unterberg, who was the team psychiatrist for the Dallas Cowboys from 1979 to 2009, described how a head coach would handle situations when a player made a mistake.

"In my experience, the greatest coaches never took everything away from a player. They always left the players with something. If you get mad and tell someone they are a total idiot, the word total does not leave the person with anything. The good coaches never did that. They knew if they did, the player would feel humiliated and either fight the coach or passively undermine the coach's effectiveness to lead the team."

It's important to get angry with your children when they do thoughtless things, so they know their actions are serious. You should also require them to face the consequences for what they have done. But when the dust has settled, tell them you know this was a mistake and not a reflection of who they are as a person.

Pay Attention to Detail

The coach parent knows it's the little things that often matter most. Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh emphasizes the importance of being disciplined when it comes to small details:

"As a coach, discipline translates into everything we do and how we coach our players. When we are in practice, are we going to touch the line on every drill? Because if you are half a step short in the drill, then when it means the most, you will be half a step short in the game."

If you see your teens acting more reclusive than usual, dressing more provocatively, or spending time with friends who may not be the best influence, take notice. Little details now can become bigger issues later.

Simple steps such as looking at your daughter instead of your email during halftime at her basketball game can clue you in to a lot of pertinent information. Is she engaged with her teammates? Is she alone in her thoughts? Is she happy to be there, or does she seem to be left out of the team experience? The coach parent looks for insights into their teenager by observing at every opportunity and paying attention to small changes as they occur.

Tell Them Why

"Because I said so" may have worked for your parents' generation, but it doesn't work with Gen Z. Your kids were brought up with Google and are used to not just knowing "what" but also knowing "why" for everything! The head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, Mike Zimmer, shared the following:

"I read a quote that leadership is getting them to want to do it, as opposed to telling them to do it. I try to find out what is important to the players and explain to them how they will be better by doing something. I get them to understand why, and I try to get them to see why it would help them. For example, I show the defensive line why they would do something so the linebackers have success."

Imagine your daughter wants to go to an unchaperoned party and gets upset when you say no. As a coach parent, you must explain that if the police bust the party and they find drugs or alcohol, the police can arrest everybody, even those not using drugs or drinking. An arrest could prevent her from graduating high school and getting into college. While your daughter will not be pleased with you for not allowing her to go to the party, the explanation gives her a reason to accept the limit.

Command and Demand

When head coach John Harbaugh started with the Baltimore Ravens, he had to unify a team that was not cohesive and give the players boundaries. My teenagers are always testing limits, and I asked him how he handles that issue with his players. He related a story about standing your ground without being confrontational.

"At the Ravens, we had a dress code. Our record was 2–3 going to Miami, and guys were challenging me. One thing you can't do when you stand for something is you can't back down. You have to stand your ground. I had heard that Terrell Suggs and Antwan Barnes decided they would wear bright-white sneakers with their suits, which was not the dress code. You had to wear dress shoes. So, they show up about thirty seconds before the buses were about to leave, and I stood out there. They come walking up to me, and I'm not going to get mad because I know they are testing me. I can feel the buses almost leaning — everyone's noses pressed against the window as the team is looking on. I said, 'Hey man, you can't get on the bus with those sneakers.'

Suggs said, 'I don't have shoes. So, what do you want me to do?'

I said, 'Well, I guess you better have some dress shoes before the plane takes off, because you can't get off the plane in Miami in those.' They rushed home, got their dress shoes, and made it to the plane. They get on the plane in dress shoes, and everyone started clapping. It was a non-confrontational confrontation. We dealt with the issue and kept the personal stuff out of it. We confront everything — not everybody."

As a parent, you have been in the position of Coach Harbaugh. Your teen knows the rules but tests you to see if you will stand firm. Are you a coach parent who means business or will you crumble when they push back?

At the heart of these principles is a modern philosophy of parenting. It's a hybrid of the old-school disciplinarian coach, the psychologically-minded coach who knows how to get into his players' heads, and the New Age players' coach who cares about the mental and physical well-being of his team.

Since every teen is different, you will determine which methods your child needs more of and which ones are not necessary. Do not try to change who you are or start parenting in a way that is inauthentic to you. Use every opportunity you can find to convey your values to your kids.

A head football coach does not create a winning team in just a day. It takes countless hours of practice and preparation. While every coach gets things done in their own way, they all have the same end goal — making their team into champions.


Excerpted from "Coach Parenting"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Erika Katz.
Excerpted by permission of River Grove Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction The Pregame — Start Parenting Like a Coach,
Chapter 1 The Kickoff — Assuming the Role of Head Coach,
Chapter 2 Creating a Winning Culture,
Chapter 3 The Buy-In,
Chapter 4 The Game Plan — Communicating with Your Players,
Chapter 5 Halftime Adjustments,
Chapter 6 Personal Foul,
Chapter 7 Cyber Bowl,
Chapter 8 Can You Trust Your Quarterback to Call an Audible?,
Chapter 9 Show Your Spirit,
Chapter 10 The End Zone,
The Coaches, Players, and Contributors,
About the Author,

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Coach Parenting: Raising Teenagers with Advice from Pro Football's Greatest Head Coaches 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book on parenting I've ever read. As a sports fan and a parent, I can't think of a cooler concept. I particularly like the input by Coach Mariucci and Jay Fiedler. Highly recommended.