How UVU coaches parent an athlete

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Timing and perspective are keys to success

As athletes grow through the various levels of sports competition, they have to differentiate the counsel of coaches and parents. Many athletes outgrow the tutelage of their parents at a relatively young age, but what happens to a parent if they’re already coaching at a higher level than those coaching their child?

Two coaches at UVU have sons that play their respective sports: men’s soccer coach Greg Maas and baseball coach Eric Madsen. Both coaches have had the experience of working with their sons as they have come up through the ranks of their sports.

“I think it’s hard because I think when you watch them play the coach comes out and you forget that they are just normal players,” Madsen said. “But being a parent, you want to see the best out of them and you want them to have the opportunity to have the most success. And sometimes that leads to maybe being too critical. I think that that’s a difficult thing to balance.”


UVU men’s soccer head coach Greg Maas, seen here with his son Zach, has to balance a delicate line between coaching and being a parent. Photo courtesy of Greg Maas.

There comes a time in every athlete’s life when their parents have to let go and coaches take over the teaching. For a parent, it can be tricky to know when that time has come for their child to move on from their tutelage.

“I believe it’s a delicate, sensitive situation,” Maas said. “Once I saw that my sons were at a proficient technical and tactical level, and they had really started to better understand the game, it was a lot easier at that point to recognize that it’s time to take a step-back. Allow their own decisions to help mold their experiences, and let them learn to realize that the more they put into it, the more they would get out of it — with a little nudging, of course. Most importantly for me, is the coaching and learning environment conducive to their growth as a player? As a former player, with an extensive coaching background, the trust and support in their coach is directly correlated to their individual development and overall enjoyment in the game.”

When a parent hands over their child to their coaches for training they become a spectator, but the coaching never stops. Madsen explains that it’s important for a parent to keep perspective about the reason they’re playing sports.

“I think the you have to have the mindset that it’s still youth sports and there’s so many benefits that they get out of it, but I think people lose that,” said Madsen. “The life lessons are so much more important.”

In the end, Maas and Madsen both said it’s rewarding just to be able to watch their sons pursue their passion and succeed in sports.

“I had a chance, my wife and I, to go watch my younger son play an indoor futsal game,” Maas said. “And we sat there and there was nothing more rewarding than watching the smile and his enjoyment in the game. And for me, being a parent of kids who have really enjoyed the game and my passion is so rewarding and special.”