Parents' Behavior Towards Youth Coaches

Here is a question from a parent:

"Mike, Thank you for your blog. Even though I'm a lifelong Cubs fan, I still recognize the value of your insight. ;-) Your post on parents who are too demanding of their kids' success (whatever their definition of "success" is) was poignant. I'd be very interested to know your thoughts, however, on parents who venture to the other end of the spectrum and think their kids are better than they actually are -- and who challenge the coaches' decisions whenever the opportunity arises -- without taking into consideration the overall coaching philosophy or TEAM strategy. What is your suggestion for diffusing such situations, when parents feel they must go to bat (no pun intended) for their kid (almost always parent -- rather than player --initiated)? In an era of entitlement, this seems to be more and more prevalent and affects so many layers of the game. Thanks again."

Thank you for following...even though you are a Cubs fan. Just kidding. I believe that you have made a very valid point, and a topic that needs to be addressed. As parents, I know that we all can't help but believe that our number one job is to protect and defend. Especially the mama bears out there. It is amazing to watch moms in action, and how they are wired to defend their cubs (also no pun intended) no matter what. The problem that arises is that the bears figure it out quicker than we humans do, and they know when to let the younger ones start fending for themselves, and encourage it at the proper time.

In the world of youth sports, I believe that so much of this comes back on the coaches' shoulders. The precedent and expectation should be clearly listed out at the very beginning. The parent chose to ENTRUST their child to this team and this particular coach, so now they must follow the guidelines. The coach should make it very clear of what his motive is, and his motive should be pure in wanting to help each child without favoritism. From that point, he should list out things that are non negotiable. Playing time, defensive positioning, and batting order are things that parents should not have contact with the coach about. If these things are not going how you (parent) want them to go, then you made a poor choice in choosing that team.

If these are issues that your child is really struggling with, and not force fed by you, then a great way to handle it would be to have your child approach the coach with a simple question of "Coach, why am I always the last batter?" A good coach will appreciate how difficult a move like that can be for a young player and then "HOPEFULLY" the coach will explain as honestly as possible why he made the decisions he has made and more importantly, what the player can do to change his/her circumstances. This may all sound a little "Mr. Rogers" to some of you, but some incredible things can happen in the development of the kids if they take this mature approach. Disaster WILL be the result if you take this into your own hands, and your child will miss out on an incredible learning opportunity. But coaches, please don't forget how much of this is your responsibility.

1) This is all about the kids
2) If this becomes all about my kid, I should let someone else coach
3) I am more concerned about their development as people than I am about winning trophies
4) Don't punish the kid for their parents stupidity
5) Teach them the game but always look for opportunities to teach them things that they can carry into the rest of their lives.
6) Review #1 again and remember that when it is all about the kids, it should all be about HAVING FUN

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Read Others' Comments...

  • About the kids!

    I feel thar there are sooooo many coaches who say that they want to help teach the kids the game the right way. Then the games become all about the coaches kids and the parents who kiss up! Wish they would remember it is about All the kids on the team not just the coaches kids.
  • My son is on a good team with

    My son is on a good team with all of his best friends. The coach is a father to one of the players. Coincidentally, this child NEVER sits. Other kids take turns starting, but he is always on the field. This is starting to bother my son, and us as well. When we mention the thought of putting him on another team, he refuses because all of his friends are on this team. So now we are torn. Do we continue on & ignore this, or do we bring it to the coach's attention?
  • I agree, but

    What do the parents do when we agree with this philosophy whole heartedly and one of our coaches can't stop hurling insults at some of the boys during games, including his own kid. Negative comments that fail to include any actual advice or hint of optimism?
  • my experience

    I helped coach one of my son's T-ball team last summer and we had this issue with one father. His son was one of the better fielders and older kids on the team. Subsequently he would tell his son that after he would field the ball to just run it to the base instead of throwing it so he could get an out. (5-6 year olds are not the best at throwing and catching, amazingly enough ;-) ) We had to talk to the parent and the kid that while outs were nice, for most of the kids, this was their first experience paying ball and our primary focus was on everyone learning teamwork and having fun not getting outs. The kid was OK with that, but the dad was upset that his 6 year old wasn't "allowed" to be the star. The kids playing on the bases would get upset when the ball wasn't thrown and then trust and teamwork went out the window, quickly followed by the fun.
  • T-Ball

    I have coached t-ball to 11 & 12 years old and the main theme the parents leave with me is the ability of their son/daughter in the sport. Me and my coaches have always had the understanding with parents that all decisions about the team and players are made by the on-field coaches. We let the parents know that we have to discover the child's potential. We ask them to be patient and let all methods that we incorporate into the practice or game be 100% from the coaches. We allowed the parents that wanted to add to or change any of our methods used to meet with us in private to discuss their viewpoints. They must adhere to our coaching methods or remove their child from the team.