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.
My son has been a lacrosse goalie for his same team for four years. This is his last year at middle school, 8 th grade. This is now his fifth year as goalie. The coach’s son had an injury and cannot do as much running so he says. The coach took out my son who has been a loyal and talented goalie for 4 years and replaced him with his son. He is even starting his own son the first opening game. His son continues to tell everyone that he is the goalie now. This is leaving such an emotional scar on my son. My son is not a conceited outspoken child but he takes pride in the one talent that he feels he has and is great at. This is the last sport in our school not tarnished with politics and favoritism. This is also such a hard age as they develop. Children are naturally insecure and learning who they are at the same time. This is affecting my son’s self-esteem, his self-worth and his mental ability as an athlete. After every practice my son gets so upset that he is nauseous and throws up because of the stress and hurtful manipulation. The coach never gave him an explanation except for it’s what’s best for the team and the only position his injured son can play. Yes life can be tough and handling disappointment is something we all have to do but we are not born knowing and its a process to learn. There is also more to coaching then playing time. You have a responsibility to teach team cohesiveness, building youth character, developing self esteem and confidence on and off the field. Maybe the lesson needed to be taught is to listen to your body, heal properly and sit out if you can’t play, not take over someone’s position. Tearing a 14 yr old kid out of his 4 yr position is emotionally damaging, manipulative, abuse of power, and sends the wrong message to our developing youths. Especially when my son is gearing up for high school lacrosse tryouts next year. Yes it’s good to know other positions and makes one more valuable of an athletic but not total replacement or even demoted to second backup goalie. The coach is not making decision with the teams best interest. He is making a decision for what’s best for his son. Almost all the other team members feel it is unfair what is being done but they are afraid to speak up in fear of being coach bullied, losing their playing time or position. Do you actually think that if another teammate was injured and the only position he could play would be the coach’s son position that the coach would actually take out his son to replace him with the injured player? What would you do if this was your son? What is a coaches perspective? I would love to get your feed back.
Coaches do play favorites and this in unfortunate. Hopefully, he will have a different coach in HS and can earn the position. And some parents do go over the coach’s head, but it can backfire when the AD is close with the coach. Power in numbers is the best option if you are going to approach the AD.
I am currently dealing with a coach who has an inflated head.
Last year for the full football season, my child seen the field for the last 2 mins of some of the games. Even when we were down 50-0, this coach still wouldn’t put the younger players in. He is getting too much to deal with and the first game of this season, he couldn’t make the game and my kid got lots of field time and did good. next game, this coach was back and after the game was lost and only 2 mins left, he puts my son in for only 2 plays. This coach has a history of doing this and is destroying these kids fun and ruining sports for them. Last year I let the organization know my feelings and its happening all over again.
I volunteer for this organization and am thinking of fulling my support. Why should I use my vacation days on this team, when they can not even let players have a fair chance. A player can not develop if they sit on the bench the whole season.
Find a better team or coach. Educate the coaching with PCA – positive coaching alliance.