November 10, 2009
Should parents confront their child's coach? by Jack Perconte
Maybe the number one gripe parents have in youth sports is about their child's coach. The complaint that the coach is treating their kid unfairly is very common. Their concern is that the coach is inhibiting their kid's future in the sport.
Often, they feel like their child can be a star player, or would be having fun, if it was not for the coach. Parents should be careful of creating a negative situation for their child. Parents are often projecting their unhappiness with the coach, and young players do not even notice. Parents should not mention their feelings about the coach in front of their kids, and especially with kids who do not seem affected by the coach's decisions. Kids are often happy with their role and being part of the team. However, parents may have a legitimate gripe and it may come to the point where they have to approach the coach about these concerns. From my experiences of being on both sides of things, rarely does confronting the coach make anyone feel better afterward.
Confronting a player's coach is recommended for the reasons mentioned below. Otherwise, parents should do their best to keep it all in perspective with the understanding that the coach is doing the best they are capable of and their child's long-range career will not be affected. Situations when coaches are not what players expect are great teaching moments for parents. Explaining the non-ideal situation to kids in a positive manner will help kids learn to deal with unpleasant situations in their future. Allowing kids to quit the team or pulling them off a team because of the coach, should be a very last resort. Before approaching their player's coach, parents should keep in mind the following:
1. A player's talent will come to the forefront eventually, so playing a few minutes less in a game at times will not damage their chances at reaching their long-range potential.
2. Learning to play a position they normally do not play almost always will help players in the end.
3. Volunteer coaches should not be expected to be experts with their knowledge of the game or with their ability to lead a team. Even great coaches at the professional or collegiate levels run into problems and they have had years of experience.
4. Parents should not take it personal when a coach seems to slight their kid.
5. As long as the coach is not abusive in any way, parents and players may have to make the most of an unpleasant situation, especially when the alternatives are not beneficial to a player's future in the sport.
With those in mind, there are three times when parents approach the coach:
A. When kids have a hard time eating or sleeping after playing
B. When kids come home crying on more than one occasion
C. When their child is so upset that they want to quit playing
When parents meet with the coach, they should do so with an open mind and after a cooling off period.
Finally, one thing I tell parents, "If you can do a better job coaching, than you owe it to yourself to volunteer the next season. But remember, it may not be as easy as you thought."