Sports parents can easily become upset with coaches who play favorites. When this happens, parents face a dilemma: Should they approach coaches about their athletes’ lack of playing time and risk making matters worse?
Your first step is to confirm your beliefs about a coach who is playing favorites. Parents should talk to other parents, school administrators or other coaches about their observations. Parents can also watch their children play during practices and games.
Parents who think a coach is unfairly treating their athletes have the right to communicate with the coach. Coaches are often revered in youth athletics. But you should feel empowered as a sports parent to talk to a coach just like you would talk to your child’s teacher.
However, you don’t want to put coaches on the defensive by attacking them. Be sure to approach them at the right moment–not right after a heated game.
Keep in mind that coaches may have a legitimate reason about playing other kids ahead of yours. Coaches may not play kids with the best talent. They often want to play athletes who work well together. Parents should talk to their children about the importance of being team players.
Coaches might be more inclined to give more playing time to hard-working kids because these athletes have a strong work ethic and are dedicated to practice. Parents can emphasize the importance of working hard in practice. Parents can also talk to young athletes about being helpful to the coach–setting up equipment, picking up balls or hustling to the next drill.
You may decide that approaching the coach about playing time is the best option. The downside is that coaches don’t have time to listen to all parent’s concerns. Coaches may become annoyed and think that parents are questioning their judgment. Coaches do not what to be told how they should be doing their job.
You certainly have the right to talk with your kid’s coaches in hopes of opening the lines of communication. The first step is to schedule a meeting with the coach away from practice time. The key is to talk in a respectful manner and try to understand the coach’s point of view. Parents should avoid attacking the coach or being overly aggressive, which could make matters worse.
Begin by saying something like, “It seems my child gets less playing time than some of the other children. This is hard for him. Is there anything he can do to improve his chances of getting more playing time?”
Be sure to wait and listen for the coach’s response. Let the coach know you want your child to contribute to the team as a whole. Don’t lecture the coach about your child’s talents or strengths. Let the coach know you also want to support the team as a parent. If you focus too much on yourself and your child, the coach will be less likely to listen.
If you’re sure your coach is playing favorites and his behavior is hurting your young athlete, you might consider finding another team for your child.