How to Handle Parents While Coaching

Hovering "helicopter" parents can sometimes make your job coaching youth sports even more difficult. See more sport pictures.
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Coaching youth sports sometimes involves dealing with petty behavior, jealousy, high emotions and constant whining.

And then there are the kids.

Sadly, dealing with unreasonable parents can be the most difficult part of coaching youth. Many people who get into coaching youth sports do so because they want to make a difference in young lives. Coaches have an important role to develop character and encourage discipline -- and they may end up doing this for the parents just as much as for the young players.

Many coaches and teachers have been lamenting the increasing trend of "helicopter parents" -- that is, parents who constantly hover (like a helicopter) over their children and become overly involved and meddlesome in their kids' lives. Such parents may question a coach's every move or tend to believe that their child should be treated as more important than others.

Sometimes, the parents' unruly behavior stems from good intentions. Their protective instincts put them on guard to keep their child from getting injured. These parents might become irate at the slightest bump or scratch their children get, even if it is standard for that to happen now and again in most sports. Or, the overprotective type might be more sensitive to emotional injury -- they might complain that the child is being overlooked or humiliated.

Other parents suffer from an age-old syndrome: wanting to relive glory days. These individuals may yearn so much for their own high school days of being the star quarterback that they want to experience the thrill again vicariously through their child. They may fight tooth-and-nail to get a coach to award their child the star position or cry foul the second their child is benched.

Luckily, experienced coaches have come up with several ways to deal with these kinds of parents. Some highly encouraged methods can actually help prevent an ugly situation before it happens. And other tips we'll discuss will help you deal with a parent in the midst of a feud.