By Michael Burcin, Under Par Consulting

Anyone who has ever played or coached competitive sports at any level, has used or heard of the term, “Know Your Role”.  This is a term often assigned to an offensive lineman who has a specific blocking scheme, or the defensive specialist on the basketball team and her #1 goal is to shut down the opponents top scorer, and put her offensive skills on the back burner. I often used the same term when coaching collegiate golf when reminding players to be aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are, and stick to those when in a tournament setting.

I think knowing your role is especially pertinent today with kids beginning sports at younger ages, more parents coaching, and the pressure from outside to fulfill a “family’s” goals of playing a collegiate sport. While coaching for 17 years, I never coached a player who reached the pinnacle of their talent who also had overactive parents, loved ones who stressed the poor shots over the good ones, or who used the term “WE” when discussing how their son or daughter played.  Even today with a daughter who plays club volleyball, the instances of players looking at parents after each missed opportunity or when the coach reminds them that the mistake they just made for the third time in a row is not acceptable, happens all too often.  Those looks or disappointment after being coached come from negative reinforcement at home by family members towards the coach or program and hence, not knowing their role.

Athletes are well aware their sports are hard and excelling at the collegiate level is extremely difficult.  Parenting is also difficult seeing your children struggle at times, face disappointment, or the need to tell them their current effort just is not good enough.  Lastly, coaching is not easy either.  Nobody decides to be a coach for the money, the fame, or the hours worked.  Coaches are not purposely trying to lose, force your child to be unsuccessful, nor do they want to undermine athletes or families in their programs.  Sometimes teams lose, kids make mistakes, and that’s part of life…..and that is 100% ok!  When this does happen, allow coaches to coach, athletes to figure out how to make a better play next time, and parents be parents. The same holds true in junior golf and the recruiting process.  Families need to have their say with academics and finances at play, but we also need to remember it is their process.  Everyone will appreciate each other more and lessen the chance that a child gets burned out, if we all “know our roles!”

If UPC can help your family with recruiting guidance or performance coaching, find us at or on IG at underparconsulting.