How to Handle Parents While Coaching

Handling Overprotective Parents While Coaching

Coaching children who have never played sports before is hard enough, but some will likely come equipped with overprotective parents who fret over everything that could go wrong. Often, such parents simply aren't familiar with the rules of the game or the common precautions. If that's the case, arrange a time to meet with them and explain the basic rules of the game and the rarity of injuries. If they get upset at small scrapes, discuss that these will likely happen, but that you always keep a first aid kit at hand. To quell their worries, you may want to ask an experienced referee official to speak with the parent for a few minutes about the game and potential dangers.

These overprotective parents may even have attitudes that are discouraging to a child's athletic development. They might assume that their child isn't good enough to compete, which naturally permeates into the psyche of the child. Be prepared to encourage kids out of this negative attitude.

Many newbie parents will take it for granted that, as a coach, you should give their child special treatment and pay more attention to him or her. Or, such parents will worry that their child's feelings will be hurt if they are ever benched. As we covered in the last section, discussing your coaching philosophy can help them understand all these things, such as why their child might not be playing as much as the parents want. If you need, meet individually with the parent to reiterate your rules on these points and your reasons behind them. At the meeting, let the parents express their concerns and address them -- show them that you care, even if you disagree.

Understandably, first-time players can be shy. Some coaches make a rule (and establish it at the initial parents meeting) that complaints about such things as playing time should first come from the player -- not the parent [source: Haefner]. This is a good way for children with overprotective parents to come out of their shell.

As hard as it can be to deal with overprotective parents, competitive parents are just as common and often more difficult.