Ask any youth sport coach today "What’s your biggest challenge?" and among the top three most likely responses is "parents."
But when asked to elaborate, most coaches will qualify the statement by indicating that it is just a few parents who occupy a lot of their time in a negative way. The issues range from arguing about playing time to offering unsolicited coaching advice to the most noticeable of all: loud inappropriate behavior exhibited during competition directed at the coach, their athlete, other team members, or the officials.
We’ve all read the headlines of parents behaving badly, but the overwhelming majority of moms and dads have their hearts in the right places and tend to be positive assets to their organizations and kids.
At the same time, parents bring a wide range of experience and perspective to their role as a youth sport parent, which only compounds the coach’s role. Some parents lack objectivity when it comes to their athlete’s ability. Others think they understand how to coach and teach the sport and do not hesitate sharing their thoughts with the coach. Some parents are apathetic.
Employing the "Athletes first, winning second" philosophical approach provides a foundation for how to engage parents in an athlete-centric way so that athletes can enjoy their sport experience. By taking a proactive approach to engaging parents, coaches can establish standards and a culture that will making coaching more meaningful and hopefully less stressful.
The next entry in the ASEP Successful Coaching Webinar Series "Making Parents Part of Your Team" deals with issue of parents, specifically how coaches and youth sport administrators can effectively work to engage parents and communicate with them to influence positive behavior.