Coaching young athletes is a rewarding endeavor. Coaches have the opportunity to mold the talent of their team into a story of success through learning. Not every team will win a championship or tournament. Through successful coaching all youth athletes will grow from the experience of participating in a team sport. It is important for youth athletes to have coaches who show they care about the athlete and not just about the win. A good coach can transcend the court and enter into the child’s mind as a mentor who builds self-esteem and trust in their student. The child athlete will take with them into adulthood a strong sense of self. Learned behaviors such as team work, respect, work ethic, healthy diets and exercise, clear communication, leadership, and sharing can come from a coach. These life skills will in turn promote healthy lifestyles.
So where does a coach meld the teachings of youth parents with their coaching styles? Ostensibly speaking, coaches are the parents of youth athletes while on the road, on the practice court, and during games. What should a coach do to optimize the young athlete’s parent’s home training while still maintaining their leadership role on their team? What does a coach do when the parents of youth athletes overstep the bounds of propriety and insist on engaging in unhealthy behaviors? Here are a few tips in involving the parents in healthy ways to participate in your youth basketball team. Included are a few ways to redirect inappropriate behavior.
- Have a meeting with the parents before the season starts. Listen to how they think their role should come into play during the season. Outline your goals for your team. Let parents know that coaching from the sidelines is not allowed. Explain that when parents coach from the sidelines it undermines the team’s confidence and creates stressful confusion. Allow for parents to volunteer for certain jobs: chaperoning, lunch/snack making, fundraising. This will allow for the parents who need to be emotionally involved with the team to feel they are contributing. By establishing boundaries and expectations upfront with your parents, you start the season out with a positive path to clear communication.
- Set time aside for office hours for your parents. Even if it is 2-4 hours a month. Let them know that you are there to talk to them about their questions and concerns. Ask that if parents have concerns about the team performance, their youth athlete, or anything pertaining to the health and welfare of the team that they should speak to you in private and at the office hours unless an emergency. This will assist in minimalizing the negative comments and confusion that can arise from parents wanting to be inappropriately in control.
- If you have parents who have special talents, basketball experience, or sports knowledge plan with them to optimize their abilities. Set aside special times for them to do lectures for the team or demonstrations. Incorporate them in the curriculum and let them know when their time comes they have control during those planned moments. This will direct the energy in a positive flow.
- If you have parents who refuse to allow their student the freedom to develop at their pace provide literature to the parents on how to raise a well-balanced athlete. Remind parents that approximately 80% of all student athletes dropout of their chosen sport by the time they graduate due to pressure. Balance is needed for the mind and body to develop so studies, sleep, nutrition, and sports need to be part of the young athlete’s daily life.
- If a parent is adamant about putting too much pressure on their youth athlete have a school counselor get involved. Many parents are concerned about their student athlete obtaining a scholarship for college. Remind the parent that the student-athlete that qualifies for this type of scholarship is one who shows the aptitude. Not all student-athletes can obtain an athletic scholarship. It is important to make a well-adjusted, well-rounded child who is focused on their abilities. Sports can play a part in getting into college just for the experience. Having an alternate plan for the student-athlete like grants, loans, and academic scholarships will take the pressure off the student-athlete. Tell your parent that putting all your eggs in one basket is not the healthy or appropriate attitude.
Great article Eitel! Working to maintain positive relationships with parents is vital. You’ve given some great tips for keeping things going smoothly.