Parenting and coaching are both extremely difficult vocations. By establishing
an understanding of each position, we are better able to accept the actions of
the other and provide a greater benefit to children. As parents, when your
child is involved in our program, you have the right to understand what
expectations are placed on him/her. This begins with clear communication from
the coach of the sport.
Research is clear that when parents and teachers work together a child tends to
do better in school. There is no reason to think that it is any different in
youth sports. The following are some guidelines for how parents can contribute
to a Coach/Parent Partnership that can help the athlete have the best possible
Note: These guidelines are adapted from Positive Coaching: Building Character and Self-Esteem Through Sports by Jim Thompson, the founder and leader of the Positive Coaching Alliance.
- Recognize the Commitment the Coach Has Made: For whatever reason, you have chosen not to help coach the team. The coach has made a commitment that involves many, many hours of preparation beyond the hours spent at practices and games. Recognize his commitment and the fact that he is not doing it because of the pay! Try to remember this whenever something goes awry during the season.
- Make Early, Positive Contact with the Coach: As soon as you know who your child's coach is going to be, contact her to introduce yourself and let her know you want to help your child have the best experience she can have this season. To the extent that you can do so, ask if there is any way you can help. By getting to know the coach early and establishing a positive relationship, it will be much easier to talk with her later if a problem arises.
- Fill the Coach's Emotional Tank: When the coach is doing something you like, let him know about it. Coaching is a difficult job and most coaches only hear from parents when they want to complain about something. This will help fill the coach's emotional tank and contribute to his doing a better job. It also makes it easier to raise problems later when you have shown support for the good things he is doing. And just about every coach does a lot of things well. Take the time to look for them.
- Don't Put the Player in the Middle: Imagine a situation around the dinner table, in which a child's parents complain in front of her about how poorly her math teacher is teaching fractions. How would this impact this student's motivation to work hard to learn fractions? How would it affect her love of mathematics? While this may seem farfetched, when we move away from school to youth sports, it is all too common for parents to share their disapproval of a coach with their children. This puts a young athlete in a bind. Divided loyalties do not make it easy for a child to do her best. Conversely, when parents support a coach, it is that much easier for the child to put her wholehearted effort into learning to play well. If you think your child's coach is not handling a situation well, do not tell that to the player. Rather, seek a meeting with the coach in which you can talk with her about it.
- Don't Give Instructions During a Game or Practice: You are not one of the coaches, so do not give your child instructions about how to play. It can be very confusing for a child to hear someone other than the coach yelling out instructions during a game. As in #4 above, if you have an idea for a tactic, go to the coach and offer it to him. Then let him decide whether he is going to use it or not. If he decides not to use it, let it be. Getting to decide those things is one of the privileges he has earned by making the commitment to coach.
- Fill Your Child's Emotional Tank: Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to be there for your child. Competitive sports are stressful to players and the last thing they need is a critic at home. Be a cheerleader for your child. Focus on the positive things she is doing and leave the correcting of mistakes to the coach. Let her know you support her without reservation regardless of how well she plays.
- Fill the Emotional Tanks of the Entire Team: Cheer for all of the players on the team. Tell each of them when you see them doing something well.
- Encourage Other Parents to Honor the Game: Don't show disrespect for the other team or the officials. But more than that, encourage other parents to also Honor the Game. If a parent of a player on your team begins to berate the official, gently say to them, "Hey, that's not Honoring the Game. That's not the way we do things here."
Communication coaches expect from athletes & parents
As your child becomes involved in comp teams,
he/she will experience some of the most rewarding moments of their lives. It
is important to understand that there also may be times when things do not go
the way you and your child wish. At these times, discussion with the coach is
encouraged. It is the first and most integral step to understanding and
- Concerns expressed directly to the coach.
- Notification of any schedule conflicts in advance.
- Notification of illness or injury as soon as possible.
Appropriate/Inappropriate concerns to discuss with coaches
The following topics are appropriate for discussion.
It is very difficult to accept your child not playing as much as you had hoped.
If your child is part of a recreational team you can expect that he/she will play
for at least half of each game.
Coaches make decisions based on what they believe to
be best for all student-athletes involved. As you have seen from the list
above, certain things can be and should be discussed with your child's
- The treatment of your child.
- Ways to help your child improve.
- Concerns about your child's behavior.
The three items listed below should be left to the discretion of the coach:
If you have a concern to discuss with a coach, the procedure you should follow is:
- Playing time, positioning, and event entry.
- Team strategies, game tactics, play calling.
- Any discussion about other student-athletes.
- Call or email the coach to schedule an appointment
- If the coach cannot be reached, contact the Recreational Director or Competitive Director of the league.
- Please do not attempt to confront a coach before or after a game or practice. These can be emotional times for both the parent and the coach. Meetings of this nature usually do not promote positive resolutions.
The next step
What can a parent do if the meeting with the coach did not provide a satisfactory resolution?
- Contact the recreational director or competetive director of the league to discuss the problem.
- They will determine the appropriate next steps if necessary.