Dealing with Parents
As almost any coach will tell you, the most difficult part of coaching is dealing with parents. Where once parents were willing to sit back and let the coaches coach, those days are no more. In my new book, Creating a Season to Remember; The New Youth Sports Leadership Handbook I give coaches advice on every situation they may encounter. The first opportunity and maybe a coach’s best shot to not only keep parents under control but to win their allegiance, trust and hopefully their friendship, is with the preseason parent-coach meeting. This get-together must be mandatory attendance for at least one of the player’ parents and should be held before the first practice of the season.
Dealing with parents – The Preseason Parents’ Assembly
- Express the sentiment of how honored the coaches are to be coaching the team.
- Make the point that they plan to continue to learn as they go. Parents want to know that the coaches are committed to bettering their teaching abilities.
- Discuss the staff’s coaching philosophy, goals, and team regulations. They must discuss how coaches plan to choose the positions kids play, their philosophy of equal playing time and how starting positions are determined.
- Make sure everyone is on board for how missed practices for non-health or family reasons are going to be handled.
- Inform parents the coaches plan to be honest but compassionate with players about their effort levels, but reinforce the notion that honesty is never intended to hurt feelings. Ask parents to help their kids understand that coaching critiques are to help players and not as indictments of their character.
- Explain the dangers of social media and to monitor their child’s use of it, as well as their own. Once things are in writing, there is little going back on negative comments.
- Set up procedures for discussing any in-season parent or player concerns. The timing and place for parent – coach’s talks are critical.
- Explain game day etiquette that coaches expect from them. Coaches must inform parents at this meeting that they will not hesitate to bench their child when parents go beyond the standards of sportsmanship behavior.
- Prepare everyone for opposing team coaches, fans who may not behave in ethical ways and poor referees. Explain the coaching staff will deal with those to the best of their ability.
- Agree to discuss with parents any future need for policy changes.
- Explain that the only time parents should approach the bench in games is when they feel a player is in danger of some sort or if a player has been severely injured.
- Remind parents that they may have different goals for their kids than others do, but everyone must make the effort to understand each other’s viewpoints without talking behind people’s backs.
Of course, the key sentiment in all of the above for dealing with parents is “Discuss.” This is the time to get everyone on the same page and people should not leave this meeting unsure of team policies. Having everyone understand the above points is crucial for avoiding discontent later. Remember, every coach can inspire parents as well as players and is a key for creating a season to remember. My book is now available on Amazon and please share the book trailers with friends. Not a coach yourself – get a copy for your child’s coach so everyone “wins” in the end.
Jack Perconte has dedicated his post-major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 27 years. His playing, coaching and parenting stories create better experiences for athletes and parents. Jack has written over a thousand articles on coaching baseball and youth sports. Jack is the author of “The Making of a Hitter” now $5 and “Raising an Athlete.” His third book “Creating a Season to Remember” is now available. Jack is a featured writer for Baseball the Magazine. You can also find Jack Perconte on YouTube with over 120 fun and innovative baseball instructional videos.