Siblings boast an undeniably unique relationship . . . and this relationship oftentimes presents its own unique set of challenges when siblings are a part of the same team. With siblings on the same squad, the responsibilities of a coach are enhanced; special attention must be paid in order to maximize the potential power of a sibling duo and prevent potential melt downs. In some instances, siblings may not present any complications at all, while in other cases, family dynamics, such as sibling rivalry, can be transferred from the confines of the home straight into your practice. Here are five tips on managing siblings successfully.
- Establish a Standard – Begin the season by sitting down with your siblings and discussing your expectations. Explain that you are aware of the special circumstances that arise when siblings are on the same team. Challenge them to operate as individuals, and promise to treat them as such. The bottom line is family drama should be left at home.
- Separate Identities – As a coach, it will be critical that you honor your promise to treat each sibling as an individual. When doing group work, give siblings the opportunity to work in separate groups. This will allow each sibling to have her own unique experience. Additionally, avoid referring to the pair as a duo (such as “The Johnson Girls”). Referring to each sibling by name will help affirm that each is an individual and will be treated as such.
- Encourage Healthy Competition – One major benefit of having siblings on your team is the opportunity to create healthy competition. Assign each sibling a goal based on her skill level, and challenge them to see who can achieve her goal the fastest. The amount of competition you are able to promote between the siblings will be largely dependent upon their individual personalities. You don’t want to create a situation where competition will cause one to succeed at the cost of their sibling’s failure.
- Avoid Comparisons – Constructive criticism can be a great teaching tool, but be mindful of constantly comparing siblings to each other. If a comparison must be made to make your point, try your best to select another member of the squad to illustrate your point. Just as you would like to avoid siblings bringing issues from home into your practice, you want to avoid creating issues at practice for them to take home.
- Utilize Sibling Trust – Siblings tend to have a bond built upon trust. This presents an immediate advantage for your team. Don’t be hesitant to put this trust on display. For instance, if one sibling is a struggling flyer, add her sibling counterpart into the stunt group for added security. You’d be surprised at the difference a trusting relationship can make within a stunt group. Once the skill is conquered, consider separating the siblings to avoid creating a situation where one becomes dependent upon the other’s presence.
Sibling relationships are difficult to navigate on the home front, and can be equally difficult to facilitate as a coach. Seeing this unique opportunity as a challenge, and not a burden, is the first step to success. Implementing the above tips will serve as additional tools for continued success throughout your season.