Many parents have concerns about their kids’ coaches — how they coach, how they organize practices or how playing time is divided. This can add stress to a coach’s responsibilities. Not only do coaches worry about winning games and improving kids’ skills, they also have to be concerned about how their job is perceived by others, particularly parents.
Parents can be a very important part of sports for both you and your athletes. Coaches need to address parents’ concerns in a diplomatic and respectful way. This article will help coaches prepare for those situations.
The first step is to determine what concerns parents may have. The number one issue for parents is playing time. They want to know how playing time will be distributed on the team. Realistically, the level of competition will influence the amount of playing time individual children receive. Parents may expect equal playing time on recreational teams, as the focus on recreational teams is often to improve players’ skills instead of on winning. Playing on more elite teams may result in unequal playing time in order to win games.
Parents may also be concerned about your coaching style. Some parents prefer a coach who is laid back. Other parents favor coaches who are more strict. Be aware that some parents have an opinion on the how a coach should interact with their kids.
The next step is to organize a team meeting for parents and athletes before the season starts. This will allow you to discuss the team rules. You can inform parents and players about what is expected of them throughout the season, as welll as talk about your coaching philosophy, playing time and goals for the season. Give parents a written handout to remind them about the rules. Make sure you are consistent with the rules to maintain credibility with both athletes and parents.
Some parents may approach coaches after a loss. You should remember to observe the “cooling off” period or wait until the next day to talk about the issue. Calmly, tell parents that it would be best to arrange a meeting at a later date. This will give you and parents time to think about the concern. This will also prevent making a scene in front of other parents, athletes and spectators.
Coaches should keep in mind the following guidelines when meeting with parents:
You want to create a positive environment to encourage parents to share their concerns. One way to do that is to listen to what parents have to say and avoid interrupting. Focus on the parent’s concern and do not talk about other issues. You can remind parents that you both have the same goal, helping their kids succeed in sports.
At the conclusion of the meeting, offer some possible solutions to fix the problem. Don’t guarantee something you cannot do. Always thank parents for approaching you about their concerns. Have an open door policy and encourage parents to talk to you again about their concerns.
Many parents will have concerns about their kids’ sport experience. Coaches can be prepared to deal with those concerns by using the guidelines mentioned above.