Dealing With Parents

Suggestions For Dealing With The Parents

Coaching is exciting and rewarding, but occasionally you may experience difficulty with parents.  Some parents may want their child to play more, others may question your judgment as a coach.

Whatever the concern, the parent is generally just looking out for their child, often at your expense.  Don’t be discouraged. There are some things you can do to open up communication and make dealing with parents a positive aspect of your coaching duties.

•    Have a parent meeting before the first practice to discuss your plans and expectations for the season. See the section, “Parent Orientation Meeting” for tips on how to do this well. Encourage questions from parents and let them know that you give them a lot of thought to the upcoming season.

•    Express appreciation for their interest and concern. This will make them more open and at ease with you.

•    Always listen to their ideas and feelings.  Remember they are interested and concerned because it is their children are involved.  Encourage parental involvement. (If you have a preferred time for them to voice those concerns, let them know at the Parent Orientation Meeting).

•    Know what your objectives are and do what you believe to be of value to the team, not to the parents.  No coach can please everyone.

•    Know the club and game rules.  Be prepared to abide by them and explain them to the parents. 

•    Handle any confrontation in a one-on-one and not in a crowd situation.  Try not to be defensive.  Let the parent talk while you listen.  Often  a parent will vent their frustration just by talking.  Listen to their viewpoint, then thank them for it.

•    Resist unfair pressure.  It is your responsibility as a coach to make the final decision.  This does not mean that you still can’t listen to the parents.

•    Don’t discuss individual parents with other parents.  The grapevine will hang you every time.  Show the same respect for each player on the team that you want the parents to show towards you.

•    Ask the parents not to criticize their children during games of practices.  Don’t let players be humiliated, especially by their own parents.

•    Don’t blame the payers for their parent’s actions.

•    Be consistent!  If you change a rule of philosophy during the season, you may be in for trouble.  At the very least, inform players and parents of any changes as soon as possible.

•    Most importantly, be fair.  If you treat all players equally and with respect, you will gain their respect and that of their parents as well.

Remember that you will be dealing with all types of children, and with parents having different backgrounds and ideals.  The challenge for you as a coach is to address these differences in a positive manner so that the season will be enjoyable for everyone involved.

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