Ways Parents Can Help Their Kids Have a Good Player-Coach Relationship

Ways Parents Can Help Their Kids Have a Good Player-Coach Relationship - Sports Techie blog
Ways Parents Can Help Their Kids Have a Good Player-Coach Relationship – Sports Techie blog

Respect is at the center of the player-coach relationship. With a setting that is based on respectful behavior, all members of a team can thrive. A parent’s role in helping a child to have a good relationship with a coach is one of instruction, encouragement and support. Unless you, the parent, are the one doing the coaching, it’s not possible to control how the coaching is handled. However, you can work to provide positive support that will enable a child to have a good experience.

Age-Appropriate Expectations

Although children at different levels have different physical and behavioral abilities, it’s always possible to teach respect. Important aspects of respectful behavior include paying attention when the coach speaks or models a skill, listening without interrupting, following directions, trying new skills and asking questions in a polite manner. Additionally, respectful behavior involves not being distracted by other kids. Simple use of polite words and behaviors can also help form a positive relationship. Teach your child to thank the coach for his time at the end of practice.

A young child can stray off task easily, and distractions are common in early league levels. However, coaches working with young children are generally trained to keep activities shorter to accommodate age-related needs. As children grow older, more attentive behavior can be expected as longer drills and activities are provided. Help a child to enjoy a good relationship with coaches at any level by reinforcing respectful behavior with encouraging words. Correct your child when inappropriate behavior is observed, and be sure to praise positive behavior.

Model Respectful Behavior

Your child doesn’t have control over his arrival time. Being late to practices and games can create problems for the coach, and it’s on you to make sure your child arrives on time. The team can also suffer if multiple kids are late or absent. Good communication from a parent can help. Let your child’s coach know if he will be absent or late. Make it a point to be on time for official activities. Follow through on commitments to the team, especially those involving things like after-game snacks or important forms.

A parent who expects a child to show respect for an authority figure like a coach must also model such behavior. If you bad-mouth the coach’s style, decisions or other actions, your child may assimilate some of these same sentiments into his own behavior. If he perceives negativity on the part of Mom or Dad, he may feel that he is justified in acting out or criticizing on his own.

No coach is perfect, and parents often disagree about a coach’s decisions. However, helping a child to have a positive experience means that it’s important to avoid attacking  his coach publicly or privately. This can be tough, especially if there is a perception that the coach hasn’t treated a child fairly. However, it’s important to remember the power you have as a role model.

Act in a Supporting Role

Coaches often appreciate the availability of parents during practices and games. Having a parent available makes it possible to quickly deal with serious behavioral issues. Additionally, having a few parents help out can lighten the duties of the coach by making it easier to manage drills and other administrative tasks. Consider volunteering as a team parent and assisting a coach in coordinating distribution of team notices, uniforms or fundraising materials. Demonstrate a willingness to help set an example for a child while supporting the coach. Parental support can do a lot to keep a child’s relationship with the coach positive.

Dealing with Differences

It’s important to realize that no matter how attentive and cooperative a child is, the player-coach relationship is two-sided. There will be times when a parent may not agree with how a play is handled, where a child is positioned, or when a child has to sit out for a play (or longer). An unintended slight can lead to a negative relationship between parents, players and coaches. It’s important to address concerns directly with the coach. Similarly, teach a child to ask questions respectfully if he disagrees with how a situation has been handled. Help your youngster understand that the coach is the leader and has the responsibility for decision-making. It’s important not to over-exaggerate small issues. At the same time, a pattern of oversights may require some private discussion.

Ongoing Development

Your child will have many coaches over time. Every coach will be unique in his approach to team discipline, drills and game strategies. It’s important to help your child understand that respect is an ongoing priority. Encourage him with positive points at the beginning of a season, and continue to model support and cooperation in order to facilitate a pleasant player-coach relationship.

We thank Nancy Parker and eNannySource for the child centric blog for our Sports Techie community parents and coaches alike.


A parent’s role in helping a child to have a good relationship with a coach is one of instruction, encouragement and support
A parent’s role in helping a child to have a good relationship with a coach is one of instruction, encouragement and support

Sports Techie, The sports seasons change and with it so does technology but one thing that remains the same is how a positive attitude when interacting with a youth coach, especially if the child is yours, is best practices. Kids mimic their family members as well as friends and strangers, it is what they do so being aware of this is the first step towards helping to develop tolerance, acceptance and love for another. Another best practice your child can learn was said be a former coach of mine, “Be on time when time is involved.”

As a first time Father I am aware that our son will need to learn about respect for himself which leads to respect for others. He or she will be watching Mom and Dad like a hawk with a Go Pro cam fitted on it, they are always ready to record. Kids are constantly recording images in their brain like a smartphone or tablet camera does so they will be able to replay the activity or performance again and again in their minds eye.  Here is a wonderful chance to help your kid understand respect by reviewing and analyzing their behavior and engagement with coaches, players and officials, and fans or friends, and then use the footage as a training tool for positive reinforcement of model behavior.

Being a good kid all the time is hard to do and we all strive for the perfect offspring but that is just not realistic and neither are those expectations for a volunteer or paid coach and their assistant coaches.  Understanding that we all make mistakes and when it comes to sports they can become bigger than life but it is how you bounce back that defines you as a youth and adult.

All people have differences, including siblings. Teams and sports might be one of the first times your kid-athlete will be exposed to different racial ethnicity, other languages and different customs. I was the Head Coach of lacrosse for the Montlake high school club team during the 90’s and one of our players was Muslim or Islamic and wore a turban underneath his lax helmet from day one. My co-coach and I decided to honor this diversity and allow him to wear it since there were no league laws back then that prevented this. Flash forward to last year when my brother was the certified ref of a high school hoops game in Idaho.

According to my bro, one of the players had been wearing a turban for years because of religious reasons with no problems before and was now a senior. The other ref that day was an off duty police officer who happened to be Caucasian. He asked Rolando whether the player had an official OK to play in games or not. The officer ref went over to the coach and asked whether he had taken care of the proper procedures to allow the turban to be worn during play because of safety issues according to Idaho state high school basketball rules. The ref again asked the coach whether he had an official document with him that said it was cleared or not. It turns out that the coach said he did not have it on him. This ref then decided he would not allow the teenager to play that day, case closed according to this on site judge and jury.

What happened next was the part that relates to this blog in that the player became emotional and was clearly distraught by the decision as were his relatives, teammates and fans. The body language exhibited by the ref only led to further misunderstanding. Had the coach handled this with the serious attention it needed, or had the ref shown some compassion for a fellow human being and trusted that the coach had secured the OK from the state and allowed him to play, none of the resulting chaos would have happened and the poor sportsmanship displayed that day would not have occurred forever affecting every kid inside that gymnasium.

Almost two decade previous Tim and I handled the issue of wearing a turban with dignity, understanding and acceptance because that felt like the right thing to do. We ended up winning the B League Championship and a lot of the reason why was the diversity and togetherness of our team instilled from the coaching staff and via their parents who understood this Player-Coach relationship as a positive, ongoing, lifelong impact.

As a life time athlete, coach and now parent, I can tell you that when a child feels like they are not being treated fairly it is usually true in one way or another. With the explosion of select and travel teams, playing time now costs money and the resulting pressure to perform is at another level from the more relaxed atmosphere of the Park and Rec, Boys & Girls Clubs, and YMCA leagues where the atmosphere is much less serious and mistakes are accepted for the most part as understanding that the ball sometimes bounces that way.

Learning how to swallow your pride when you get benched or see no playing time as a player is equally frustrating to the parents. Remember rule one, most games are being recording by a mobile tech device so be sure to display patience, caring and compassion for the Player-Coach relationship because it will surely be on film. These video recording and pictures should help you to model good behavior and you can use these videos and photos as opportunities to engage with your kids and help them to further understand the impact of a positive player and coach relationship as I have undergone, as our son will undergo, and as your kid will too.

I will see ya when I see ya, THE Sports Techie @THESportsTechie – http://twitter.com/THESportsTechie

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