Communicating with 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, a parent is generally just looking out for their child, often at your expense. Don't be discouraged! Here 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. Encourage questions from the parents and let them know that you have given 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 that are involved. Encourage parental involvement.
- 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 to explain them to parents.
- Handle any confrontation 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 frustrations just by talking. Listen to their viewpoint, then thank them for it.
- Resist unfair pressure. It is your responsibility as coach to make the final decision. This doesn't mean that you can't still listen to parents.
- Don't discuss individual players 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 toward you.
- Ask the parents not to criticize their children during practice or a game. Don't let your players be humiliated, even by their own parents.
- Don't blame the players for their parents' actions.
- Be consistent! If you change a rule or philosophy during the season, you may be in for trouble. At the very least, inform players and parents of any change 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.