The Sports Parent Problem... And Solution

The Sports Parent Problem... And Solution

Not a week goes by without some story in the news about a crazy sports parent attacking a coach, referee, or another parent. One coach in Virginia was recently hospitalized after a parent beat him up with a metallic water bottle. 

While there is plenty of coverage about these incidents, it's crucial to recognize that these extreme cases aren't the primary concern for coaches. These aren't the sports parents causing coaches to lose sleep or driving them out of the profession.

The overwhelming majority of coaches do not face physical hostility from parents. Instead, many coaches experience passive ways in which a few parents make their lives miserable. If you've been a head coach, you understand what I am talking about.

It's the cold shoulder or daggers thrown with their eyes after a game where their child doesn't play as many minutes as expected. It's the harsh criticism. While most coaches expect and can handle coaching critiques, it's the personal attacks sent late at night via email or text messages. Or it's the rumors of discontent that grow within a certain group of parents, escalating into an attempt to get the coach fired.

Our fears extend beyond these issues; some coaches have been bullied on social media, or even faced false accusations in an effort to force them out. For every coach, these situations drain the joy out of coaching, causing them to question whether their sacrifice is worth it. It creates obstacles in building relationships with athletes and having a positive impact on their lives. Moreover, it fosters a toxic environment for the team and the parents surrounding it, even affecting coaches' livelihoods and families.

Sports parents are indeed a problem. So, what's the solution?

Well, it's not the one I initially took and likely not the one you, as a coach, might consider: building up walls. No, that doesn't work well at all, and I've learned that the hard way. The solution is to engage parents, build a partnership with them, and involve them in the team experience. I understand that, for many coaches, this might sound crazy, which is why I wrote a book about it!

Building partnerships with sports parents not only significantly reduces parent-related problems but also brings several other benefits. When we partner with parents:

  • More parents will support the team culture and the experience you are trying to create.
  • They will be more likely to support your efforts to coach and challenge their child, especially those athletes who you struggle with buy in
  • A little investment in these relationships will save you time and energy, allowing you to get back to enjoying coaching.

Moreover, something magical will happen. Actually, it's two things so incredible that I couldn't believe it when it started happening with the coaches I support:

Firstly, you will help some parents grow closer to their child. Sports often create division within the family unit, and you can help bridge that gap.

Secondly, some parents will be positively impacted by your leadership and example. It may sound crazy, but coaches like myself and others I work with started receiving messages from parents thanking us for helping them become better parents.

If this sounds like something you want or need, be sure to pick up "The Sports Parent Solution" today. It's available on Amazon, Apple Books, and now Audible!

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