As a coach, working with parents comes with the job.
No coach goes through his career without ruffling the feathers of a set or two of parents on occasion. The key is to do whatever you can to reasonably avoid those circumstances from arising in the first place, and if they do, to handle them the right way.
Supportive parents can be an important resource for every coach. Coaches and parents must establish a positive relationship to support their child’s development on and off the field.
Factors that can contribute to difficult relationships:
- Lack of communication between coaches and parents
- Parents lacking a basic understanding of football
- Overly protective parents
- Overly competitive parents
- Parents unable to appropriately channel their behavior
Strategies to help you communicate with parents:
- Develop and share a list of expectations for both parents and players.
- Be proactive in ensuring that players and their parents understand these expectations.
- Be accessible, within reason, to meet with the parents to discuss their concerns and questions.
- Respond quickly and appropriately to minor issues as they arise, before they can turn into major issues.
Sharing Expectations for Parents
Before the season kicks off, be sure to share your expectations of parents in either a pre-season meeting or through a letter. In everything you communicate, the focus should be on your commitment to helping their son or daughter be successful both on and off the field.
Here are some examples of expectations for parents:
- Be sure that your child knows, win or lose, that you love them. Be the person they can always look to for support.
- Be honest with yourself about your child’s athletic ability, competitive attitude, sportsmanship and skill level. Be honest with your child about his or her capabilities as a player.
- Be aware that if you are overprotective, you may perpetuate a problematic situation.
- Be helpful, but don’t provide too much coaching, advice, or criticism of your child after practice or a game.
- Teach your child to enjoy the thrill of competition, the rewards of working to improve at something, and the resilience to face a challenge and bounce back. Help your child develop a healthy competitive attitude: a feel for competing, trying hard and having a good time.
- Understand and respect the role of the game officials. Don’t overreact to their calls. Teach your child to respect the officials and play by the rules.
- Know that while winning is an important goal, winning at all costs is never appropriate.