“I’m not keen to coach as I feel so judged by parents.” (Mum of 10 year old)
We’ve all been to BBQ’s and social events where the topic of ‘our kids coach’ comes up. And there will be a range of opinions, where some coaches will be talked about with admiration, while other coaches not quite so much. Many youth coaches talk of the challenges of feeling judged by parents, often leading to a lack of confidence, leaving coaching altogether or simply not willing to put their hand up.
Now the thing is, parents genuinely love and want the best for their kids. They want to see their kids happy and experiencing some success. And some parents may have pretty strong opinions on how practices are being run or how the team is performing, because many would have been involved in sport through their life.
So how can we navigate this perceived parental judgement, to get them on-board and buying into what we are doing? How can we set our season up for success? Here are a few ideas:
Vision for Success: “Our philosophy is that success is kids having fun, making friends and learning new skills. If we do that well, we hope they will return next year and continue to enjoy their sport. Our role as parents is to uplift mana through positive support of our kids. There is no need for any parents to do any side-line coaching as this can put extra pressure on kids, whilst confusing them. Leave that to our coaches. You can just sit back and enjoy watching them play.”
Practice Philosophy: “We are strong advocates of a player-centered / game-based coaching approach. This may be different to what you have seen or experienced. You may think our practices look unorganised, as the kids won’t be standing in queues doing a series of drills, and at times things may look messy, as mistakes will happen. But practices are a place to learn and grow, and if we practice through games, then the kids will have fun and improve.”
Image by Mick Haupt Unsplash
Connected Culture: Just like you work on building a culture with your players, do the same with the parents. Find opportunities to foster trusting relationships between your parents and supporters, such as a team bbq (a great way for parents to get to know each other). If we have a personal connection of trust, both parties are more likely to be in a position to rationalise their behaviour in the best interest of the kids and team.
So let’s get the parents on board and aligned with your vision. Once they know you have a plan and that you come from a place of love, they’ll be right behind you.