This article provided by Coaches Network
For high school coaches today, one key to success is learning to work well with athletes’ parents. A recent survey found that nearly two-thirds of coaches polled said they had either quit or considered quitting because of parents. How do veteran coaches tackle the challenge? Here are some suggestions:
Keep calm in the storm
It’s easy for parents to become emotional about their children, so it’s critical that the coach does the opposite and remains calm. Even if a parent is totally out of line, the coach must take the high road. One coach surveyed wrote that he regretted raising his voice with a parent.
“I should have swallowed my tongue and turned the other cheek,” he wrote. “I raised my voice in the exchange and only allowed a greater divide to exist. It hindered my relationship with that player for the rest of his career, which I regret.”
Another coach relayed how he was able to maintain composure during a baseball game. “A parent came to me in the dugout … and began yelling loud enough for everyone on and off the field to hear. I told her that was not the appropriate time to discuss an issue and if she wanted to talk we could do so after the game.”
Help your athletes navigate
Nearly two-thirds of coaches said players had complained about their own parents’ conduct. So there may come a time when you need to take action on behalf of your player. And sometimes other parents can be your ally.
“I had a player who wanted my help with her father’s behavior,” wrote one coach. “I was able to recruit some help from other parents and to get the problem under control.”
In other cases, empowering your player to talk to their parent themselves can have a positive outcome. When doing that, it’s still important to be a support system for the athlete:
“[I] allowed the player to speak with their parent at halftime per their request; I assured the player it was OK and not to worry about their parents’ action. I tried to take all the pressure off the kid … and I explained that my relationship with [them] had nothing to do with their parents,” wrote one coach.
Be open to change
While nearly 80 percent of coaches said that they had not changed their coaching style in response to parental complaints, some admitted that they had made some minor adjustments:
“It was not so much a change in coaching style as it was point of view,” one coach wrote. “Discussions with parents are part of growing as a coach. You must always apply lessons learned if you intend to progress.”
Sometimes, a parent will go to extreme measures, such as threatening to transfer their child to another school. One coach who faced such a situation realized that they needed to redirect the conversation.
“After a parent conference, I suggested we put our differences aside and focus on the student-athlete,” he wrote.