By Janis Meredith
In 21 years of sports parenting, my three kids have had over 80 different coaches. Needless to say, we’ve experienced almost every kind of coach you can imagine.
There have been yelling coaches, poker-faced coaches, people-pleasing coaches, hellbent-to-win coaches and every other type in between.
Yet even with all the coaching personalities we’ve seen, I conclude that there are really only two coaching types: the ones we like and the ones we don’t. I can promise you that your child will have both if she plays for any length of time.
What do you do when your child doesn’t like his coach?
- Let him voice his frustration to you without judging his feelings.
- Decide with your child whether a confrontation with the coach is needed.
- If a coach confrontation doesn’t resolve the problem, then you and your child may simply have to agree to disagree with the coach, unless there are moral issues.
- Keep your conversations about the coach between you and your child; don’t spread your complaints around the bleachers with other parents.
- If you decide to disagree with the coach and remain on the team, then accept the situation and move on. Don’t badmouth the coach to your child.
- Find a way to vent your own personal frustrations about the coach, whether it’s writing down your thoughts or sharing your feelings with your spouse or a friend (not two, three or four friends). Then leave it at home when you go to games.
- Teach your child to treat the coach with respect even if he has a problem respecting the coach.
- Remember, you don’t have to be the coach’s best friend.
What should you not do when your child doesn't like the coach?
- Stir up trouble behind the coach’s back. I’ve known parents who started a petition against a coach, called up other parents to spread discontentment, and complained to the administration before they talked to the coach. If you have a problem, confront the coach face to face instead of behind his back.
- Try to get the coach fired. If you want to get a coach ousted because you don’t like him, what are you teaching your child? That we just get rid of people we don’t like? I’ve known parents who complained enough to the administration and got a coach fired simply because their daughter wasn’t playing the position they wanted her to play.
- There’s always something your child can learn from her coach, even if it’s simply how not to coach). Help her look for the good in the coach. This is a great opportunity for your child to learn how to work with someone who she finds difficult. If she can learn this while she’s young – and with a parent helping her unpack her thoughts and feelings – she will have a head start in learning life skills for future bosses.
Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach's wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. She authored the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series and has recently launched a podcasting series for sports parents. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.