School is back in session, which means fall sports are gearing up too. As we begin hitting the ball fields, racing to practices, and doing those oh so dreaded fundraisers, let’s remember to play nice, parents.
Having coached a varsity sport for 8 years, I have seen the wonderful impact parents can have on team sports as well as the negative. Coaching is A TOUGH JOB. It is stressful. It is emotionally and physically draining but it is so rewarding. The good outweighs the bad…unless you have that parent. The parent that complains about everything, questions all your intentions, and is hovering over your back to give their child more playing time. This is the same parent that doesn’t participate in any fundraising, volunteers for nothing, and sends condescending emails (never will talk face to face) leaving a coach even more stressed than the job already requires.
Now that I am no longer a coach, but a parent watching from the stands, I completely understand the emotions that arise in parents when watching our children play a game that we love. By no means would I ever tell a parent not to be your child’s advocate because parents play a critical part in the success of a good sports program. As a coach, I appreciated input from parents about how to help their child become more successful. Parents know their kids best. BUT, coaches know what is best for the team. So before you go stomping around the field or choose to send a nasty email, here is behind the scenes insight on what a coach faces daily and how you can approach them.
- Never approach a coach in the middle of a game, their focus is solely on the game.
- Set up a face to face meeting. Or better yet, if you have an older child, let them handle it before you get involved.
- After a game is not the time for a “discussion.” The coach is responsible for clean up, team talks, paying officials, making sure players get home safely, and more.
- Sending a nasty email is never ever a good idea. It only upsets both parties and resolves nothing. Communication is best done over the phone or in person.
- Try to be a partner with the coach; you both want what’s best for the team and the individual.
Like I said before, coaching is HARD. It isn’t just showing up to practices and games, but staying up all night to strategize an upcoming game. Mentally and physically preparing you for a 16 plus hour work day. Mentoring and entertaining kids. Pushing kids of all different personalities to reach their full potential. Trying to unify players of all different backgrounds. It’s picking up and taking kids home. It’s balancing teaching technique as well as teaching responsibility, commitment, perseverance. Being encouraging, but tough at times. It’s dealing with player conflict in the locker room. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
A lot goes on behind the scenes. Coaches also have to ensure that the players are eating right, making good grades, staying out of trouble in school, getting adequate rest, and so much more. Often coaches are balancing a full-time job and losing valuable time with their own families to be with YOUR kids. Coaches choose that life because they love the game, want to make a positive impact on the youth, and know the amazing value that organized sports adds to an individual. I chose it because I truly believed that a coach has one of the greatest impacts on a young person’s life, just as some of my former coaches had on my life.
Remember the greatest thing a parent can do is to partner with the coach and be appreciative of their time and commitment they have put into your child’s life. You are both on the same team!