The stigma is gone and the taboo is lifted. Young girls are encouraged to throw, kick, shoot, hit, run, lift, and play sports at younger and younger ages.
Fathers across America are taking advantage of their daughter’s athletic opportunities, and they are coaching all manner of select teams in order to pass on their athletic prowess to their daughters.
Dads, I appreciate your enthusiasm and commitment! And some of my fondest memories are the times I hit tennis balls, caught footballs, or played catch with my dad.
Please bear with me while I explore some possible pitfalls you may want to avoid while coaching your daughters.
Your Daughter Desires Your Attention
Having raised three daughters, I’ve seen firsthand the powerful influence that a father has on a daughter. Girls admire and adore their daddies and want to feel loved and protected by them. Their father’s watchful care means everything to them.
Getting a father’s undivided attention can be difficult, so any daughter would be thrilled to be the focus of her dad. However, the problem with coaching your daughter is you become so driven to see her succeed in sports that you completely neglect her other gifts and talents.
I believe it’s very possible that a loving dad could unknowingly pressure his daughter into playing sports when she would choose for herself a different path.
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Many of the girls that my daughters played sports with through the years had very involved, vocal, and borderline-obsessive dads, either coaching them or watching them closely from the sidelines.
I witnessed the pattern of a father’s powerful presence in the lives of these young ladies, and I believe their father’s passion for sports was a huge reason why they played, if not the main reason.
Not all girls will play to please their fathers, but I believe it can be a significant motivating factor for the girl who covets his approval and affection.
Dad, your influence is greater than you can imagine. A young girl’s first example of what her heavenly Father is like is you! That’s a tremendous responsibility for any dad to live up to.
I remind all men of the charge given by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Your Daughter Needs Your Spiritual Guidance
Dads, your task is twofold: train your daughters spiritually to know God, and do it in a manner that is gentle and loving.
Men, you already know the struggles of communicating with females, based on your encounters with your wife. So another possible concern in coaching your girls is the practical nuts and bolts of how to adjust your coaching style.
I can confirm that girls will always be more receptive to your words if you deliver them in a calm, quiet, and sensitive way, wrapped in the warmth of your love.
The tendency for most parent-coaches is to be harder on their own child and short-tempered at times with that child’s weaknesses. This coaching dynamic can make your daughter’s experience unpleasant and unfair. It’s okay to praise your child and play your child!
Your Daughter Wants You to Value the Relationship
I will also go out on a limb and make the generalization that dad, you are more result-driven than relationship-driven. Make sure your influence counts for eternity in the lives of your athletes! Be intentional about building strong relationships with your daughter first, then the other players and parents too. It’s not all about the wins.
Be careful not to unwittingly masculinize, or “toughen up,” your daughter through gruff or harsh language. Girls can play to win and be intense without being coarse in their behavior or setting aside their femininity.
Girls and boys are different! This difference is God-designed! But society, in an attempt to attain equality, is denying the truth of our unique gender identities that God created in us.
Your Daughter Needs You to Affirm Her Femininity
Sports is one area where a girl’s femaleness is under siege! Yes it is possible to play as hard, as smart, and as skilled as any boy—but still keep our beautiful femininity intact.
A well-placed word from you—complimenting your daughter’s modest appearance or beautiful character—will go a long way toward inspiring her to embrace her God-given feminine design.
Girls need quality time to enjoy the company of their teammates, and they love to socialize at practices and games, not to mention pizza parties and sleepovers. So provide relaxed times and fun activities as well as focused practice.
Girls care about what they wear, so let them have the pink uniforms with matching ribbons!
Win, lose, or draw, girls will always enjoy postgame rewards—anything sweet will do! I promise you they will not want to hear the stats or talk about what they need to improve on. Let it go!
Proceed With Caution
So dad, if you are brave enough to tackle the task of coaching your daughter, be careful to use your influence for her long-term benefit, not to further your athletic dreams.
Listen intently to her dreams and relate to her emotionally in a compassionate, tender, and caring way—just like her Savior does—and let her decide if sports is right for her.
You are the godly man in her young life who sets her feet upon the solid ground of unconditional, sacrificial, Christ-like love, so commit to embrace her unique femininity and protect it fiercely.
Dad, tread softly on the sacred ground of your daughter’s soul, because your footprints never truly disappear.