PARENTS V. COACHES: What Should the Boundaries Be Regarding Parental Conversations with Coaches?

Ideally, we want our kids to learn how to stand on their own two feet, so that if they have an issue with a coach, one’s son or daughter will have enough personal courage and gumption to address the coach. The youngster may have an issue with one’s playing time, or the position they’ve been assigned, and so on.

But the everyday reality is that many sports parents don’t wait or even encourage their youngster to take matters in their own  hands. Rather, hawk-eyed parents will spot other Dads chatting up the coach after a practice session, and in our ever-competitive sports world, ambitious Dads will want to chat up the coach as well.

Now, lots of HS coaches and travel coaches have become proactive about these situations. As one of my WFAN callers mentioned this AM, he has adopted a 24-hour “dark” policy. This is a very popular approach in which no parent can call or email the coach for at least 24 hours after every game.

If your school or program doesn’t have this policy in place already, I urge you as a coach to adopt it right away.

However, there are still those coaches who make it clear that they never want to interact with the parents. They tell the kids on the team at the first practice sessionthat they (the coaches) are there for the athletes – not for the Moms and Dads.

While that policy may work for some coaches, it’s my opinion that Moms and Dads should have the right to talk with the coaches. After all, coaches are educators, and just as you can reach out to your child’s teacher about your child’s academic performance, sports parents should be able to make appointments to see the coach as well.

However, that being said, there are some strict guidelines. Besides the 24-hour rule, if you do call or see the coach in person after a practice, PLEASE bear in mind that the coach probably has their own family to tend to. As such, DO NOT converse with the coach for more than 10 minutes. Ask your question, and then listen to their answer carefully.

PLEASE DO NOT try to “sell” the coach on your perspective. That is, don’t try to convince him or debate with him on the merits of your child’s abilities, and why they should start or play more in the games. Ultimately, you are not going to be successful in your attempts.

If you want, you can opt to email the coach. Just be very, very careful what you write in your email. Understand that the coach will now have a written record of your point of view.

And most importantly, NEVER put down another kid on the team. That’s not only unfair, it’s wrong. So, if you’re tempted to “explain” to the coach why your kid should be starting over this other kid, you have now crossed the line. Most coaches won’t even respond to this kind of email.

One other thing to consider. Lots of sports parents feel that if they don’t talk to the coach on behalf of their kid, who will? That is, they feel they have to be youngster’s advocate.

But lots of kids will then turn to you and say, “Dad, how could you go and talk to the coach about me? Don’t you know he absolutely hates that? Now I’ll never see the field!”

In other words, your best intentions may backfire on you. Bottom lineL even if you are hellbent to talk to your kid’s coach, better check with your son and daughter first. Or at least get their views first.