Can’t some parents be a right pain in the backside? You know, the squeaky wheel parent who keeps questioning and judging how you are running things?
Often the biggest headache coaching a youth rep team, can be ‘dealing with’ parents, especially in regards to selections and game time. Why isn’t my child getting more court time? Why is he/she not starting? Why has he/she not made the squad etc... (And sometimes those ‘helpful’ tips of how the team could improve their performance). You’ve signed up to coach, not counsel parents through the journey. Right?
Now just for a moment, walk in the parent’s shoes. They’ve potentially sacrificed a lot of time, money and effort to support their children, especially if your team is heading to tournaments. And if they’ve made the effort to come to tournament, they have likely taken leave from work, travelled a great distance and are spending a heap of money on accommodation and everything else that comes with being there.
Parents genuinely just love their kids and want the best for them. They want to see them happy, which often relates to seeing them play. There could be nothing worse for a parent, after making the big trek to tournament to see their child constantly on the bench and not contributing to the bigger cause. You may notice that you spend more time ‘dealing with’ parents of fringe players rather than those of the star(ter)s?
It’s inevitable, that you won’t be able to keep everyone happy, so it’s best to front foot potential issues and move to a position of ‘working with’ rather than ‘dealing with’ parents and supporters. Consider inviting the parents to an ‘information evening,’ where you can outline key information you feel parents would benefit from, such as goals for the tournament / campaign, team philosophy / theme, match time rotation, side-line communication, lines of communication to you as coach.
And even more importantly, find opportunities to foster trusting relationships between your parents and supporters (food and beverages is always a good bet). If we have a personal connection of trust, both parties are more likely to be in a position to rationalise decisions in the best interest of the team and player.
So let’s ‘work with.’
(This is #5 if a 6 part series of 'representative team coaching.')
Refer to 'Enhancing Relationships' from the Leading Coach Programme