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The parent-coach relationship plays a key role in effectively coaching young athletes.
Every parent wants their child to excel in their sport of choice, and when a parent becomes disruptive to the players/coach dynamic, you have a breakdown of instruction. Poor behavior of parents can be especially difficult for a coach to yield their influence.
To help prevent parents from becoming disruptive in the first place, youth coaches need to first be proactive in fostering positive parent-coach relationships. Should parents become disruptive, coaches should seek to have a better understanding of the parent’s position before making up their mind on how to react.
There are several ways to start the personal training session off right with parents. The Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) suggests three techniques to kick-start proper communication with parents.
Setting expectations in a positive way at the very beginning of the session will hopefully keep parents from becoming troublesome, but of course it isn’t guaranteed to work every time.
It’s important to remember that the problem of disruptive parents is not an isolated one. Unruly parents pop up in all communities, regardless of socio-economics, race and region. They aren’t mutually exclusive to sports either – negative parents can be found in relation to every kind of youth activity.
Even when a parent is disruptive, they are still a valuable source of input. Find a time when emotions aren’t particularly high and invite the parent to have a conversation. Hopefully, communication has happened throughout the season up to this point – getting to know them and their children is important to everyday coaching. Remember that parents should be considered your partner in getting the most of their child and more often than not, a parent just needs to get something off their chest.
According to PlayPositive.com, “try hard not to be defensive or evasive. Welcome the chance to deepen your relationship with the players’ parents. You may learn some things about them, their children – and maybe even yourself – that help improve your coaching. Hear the parents out. Seek first to understand before being understood.”
If needed, coaches should allow themselves time to consider the parent’s position. After that consideration, if a coach feels secure in their own position, they can have the confidence to stand their ground. Coaches need to do what they think is right.
Manners maketh man – and together, let cooling heads prevail.