Re-Write your job description
We know coaching involves teaching our respective sport, hopefully some life lessons, guiding young minds, building athletes, making practice plans, subbing and shifting players, game day organization, and stuffing our cars full of so much gear that groceries don’t stand a chance. But these days more than ever we have a job outside of those typical duties, whether we like it or not. And if we neglect to build this into our job description in this day of youth athletic insanity, then we can burn out before we even get going. This additional duty? It involves creating a strong, well communicated, cohesive unit with our athletes’ parents and our administrators. Its the OTHER practice/season plan.
We can’t guarantee that we will reach and mold every kid that comes our way, the same as we can’t be sure that every parent will buy-in to our philosophy. Perfection is an unreachable goal. But if we put planning, expectations, communication, and building relationships with our parents as a priority -the way we do with our players, then we can have a stronger program and avoid some of the misery that often seems unavoidable in coaching.
Over zealous parents aside, what turns the average parent into a coach’s nightmare? Lack of education and realistic expectations about the program and it’s goals, lack of communication or understanding on philosophy or decision making, misinterpretation of what is said to players vs what they tell parents they heard, feeling the coach is unapproachable, retaliatory, or unavailable, misunderstanding of the coach’s direction for the season, and misunderstanding how the coach feels about their child, are the main causes for friction.
To think all drama can be avoided is unrealistic, and occasionally there is a single or small group of parents that will go above and beyond to make your season so miserable that you will question why you are rearranging all your free time to just feel abused and bullied. But overall, if you plan for parents like you do for your kids, your seasons will build more and more supporters that can and will speak out alongside you when these bully parents show up in your programs.
Rebuild your job description beyond the field, beyond the kids, and find some peace. Take back your love of coaching. Help your parents enjoy the process more by understanding their role and giving them the opportunity to ask real questions and get honest answers when they need it. Take more time with families and parents. Invite them to watch practice, invite them to come out one day to participate, send updates on their kids, tell them their child had a particularly good practice. Let’s change the trajectory of our sports where coach vs parent leads us to a place where we all lose, including our kids.
Don’t just practice plan, program plan. Build something bigger, better. Where the needs, expectations, and communication means coaches are approachable and parents aren’t on the offensive. Take yourself out of the corner, off the defensive, and open the path between parent, coach, player and admin. By pushing away parents because of the fear of what they can do to us we are actually building animosity. Change your approach and re-involve what are really our greatest assets, the champions of our players. A few awful ones aside, parents really are not the enemy, they just react to their perception of whats in front of them. You have the ability to SHAPE THAT PERCEPTION! Thats a WIN 🙂
Check out my Open Door Policy and see how you can plan for your parents as well as you plan for your athletes.