Parents need to be involved in their child’s sports and should talk to their child’s coach—but within reason. Sometimes what is reasonable in looking after their child’s needs and best interests in sporting activities can be confusing to some parents. They find it hard to believe, for instance, that it isn’t always a good idea to seek out the coach to complain about something or to make suggestions. Sometimes, it isn’t.
Think Twice Before Complaining to the Coach
Some parents believe they should talk to the coach whenever something is going wrong, especially if the child:
- has had a “bad game”
- has been a victim of “bad calls”
- is playing poorly because of the “bad play” of certain teammates
- hates his position on the team
- doesn’t get enough playing time to improve his game
Talking to the coach can sometimes do more harm than good and you must be very careful and tactful in your approach and choose your timing carefully. A coach has not been trained to worry about your child’s interests to the degree that a teacher has, and may not be particularly sympathetic.
Watch Your Timing and Your Tone
You can’t arrange the team to suit your child’s best interests but, if you are concerned about something after having watched a few games and realize you are seeing a pattern that you think could and should be changed, go ahead and speak up. However, check your emotions first.
- Other than to say something complimentary or encouraging, never talk to the coach right after a game or call him that night. He’s usually busy analyzing what went right and what went wrong with the game and doesn’t want to deal with personal problems or concerns at that time.
- It is better to talk to the coach after a practice on the phone unless he seems to be hanging around after a practice, perhaps to talk to parents. Tell him what you want to talk about and ask if it is a good time so that he’s not rushed, and ask if there is a better time to talk.
- Make sure you are calm and plan on remaining calm throughout the conversation no matter how annoyed you may be. This also means that you should watch your tone of voice and, if you are face to face, watch your body language, too. You can’t be responsible for the coach’s reaction, but you are responsible for what you say and how you say it.
- Keep your message short and direct, be respectful and don’t exaggerate. Don’t use this time to praise him and don’t apologize for what you are saying. Tell him the problem with and let him know how you think the problem should be resolved. Listen and try and repeat what he has said: “So, you think my child should, should not….”
- If you find yourself becoming angry, cut the conversation short and remember to thank the coach for his time. Try again at another time when you can remain calm..
Encourage Your Child to Talk Directly to the Coach After a Practice
It is better for your child to talk directly to the coach about things that are bothering him rather than for you, the parent.
- Help your child rehearse what he wants to say and help him pick the best time to talk to the coach in person, which, for the child, is usually at the end of a practice.
- Review the coach’s possible negative reactions, which may range from impatience, annoyance, or even being dismissive, and remind your child to show respect and acceptance, and to thank the coach.
If your child insists that you not speak to the coach about any team matters or personal matters, respect his feelings and keep quiet. There are worse things than doing nothing. Remember that your child’s coach is an important person in his life. Do your best to foster a good relationship with him.
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