Working with Parents
Developing constructive relationships will more than pay off the time it takes. This is a great place to use the home visit for building the program and discussing their sons objectives and goals both short and long term. When dealing with parents and developing close relationships with them, don’t let the friendship compromise fairness to your players or coaching objectivity. Never play a boy because his parent is a friend, must discuss their sons role on the team. The following are several guidelines that many coaches use in building consistency in their football program.
A parent with a complaint would usually rather talk on the phone than in person. The best approach to an irate parent is to talk to that person face to face. Do not make an “enemy.” Do everything you can to turn them into a friend of the program. An assistant coach should not hesitate to refer parents to the head coach, but first inform the head coach fully of the situation.
Never comment negatively about another squad member in front of a parent or visitor.
Work hard with mothers. They are better workers and have more influence over the lives of the players than the fathers do.
Design & implement a player –parent contract. One that you can enforce!
Parenting and coaching are both extremely difficult vocations. By establishing an understanding of each position, you better be able to accept the actions of the other and provide a greater benefit to children. As parents, when their children are involved in any athletic program, they have the right to understand what expectations are placed on their child. This begins with clear communication from the Head coach.
Communication coaches expect from athletes & parents
Any and all concerns expressed directly to the Head coach. Parents and players must notify the Head coach of any schedule conflicts in advance that keeps the athlete from attending practice. Must notify the head coach or an assistant of illness or injury as soon as possible if it’s going to keep your athlete out of practice or game.
As an athlete becomes involved in the football program at middle and or high school, he will experience some of the most rewarding moments of his life. It is important to understand that there also may be times when things do not go the way you and your child wish. At these times, discussion with the coach is encouraged. It is the first and most integral step to understanding and resolution.
Appropriate/Inappropriate concerns to discuss with coaches
The following topics are appropriate for discussion:
The treatment of your child.
Ways to help your child improve.
Concerns about your child’s behavior.
It is very difficult to accept your child not playing as much as you had hoped. Coaches are professionals. They make decisions based on what they believe to be best for all student-athletes involved. As you have seen from the list above, certain things can be and should be discussed with your child’s coach.
The three items listed below should be left to the discretion of the coach:
Playing time, positioning, and event entry.
Team strategies, game tactics, play calling.
Any discussion about other student-athletes.
There are situations that may require a conference between the coach and player, or coach and parent. These conferences are encouraged. It is important that all parties involved have a clear understanding of the other person’s position. When a conference is necessary, the following procedures should be used to help resolve any concerns.
Student-Coach – open-door policy for all coaches
Parent-Coach – done by appointment
If you have a concern to discuss with a coach, the procedure you should follow is: Call the coach to schedule an appointment.
If the coach cannot be reached, call the school athletic director; he/she will set a meeting for you. Please do not attempt to confront a coach before or after a contest or practice. These can be emotional times for both the parent and the coach. Meetings of this nature usually do not promote positive resolutions.
The next step: What can a parent do if the meeting with the coach did not provide a satisfactory resolution? Call and schedule an appointment with the school athletic director to discuss the situation. At this meeting the appropriate next step can be determined, if necessary.
Preseason Parent Meeting
A great season needs a great start with both players and parents.
Your parent meeting at the beginning of the season is one of the most important moments in setting the tone for the season.
One of the most critical aspects of developing the team culture you want is gaining buy-in from players’ parents. A group meeting with parents is a wise investment, because people tend to live up to expectations if they know what those expectations are.
Host your parent meeting in a private setting (such as the home of one of the coaches or parents), where you can have the full attention of the group. If this is not possible, then the meeting could occur before one of the first practices or games when parents would need to drop off their children anyway.
How to Plan Your Parent Meeting
Welcome and Introductions
Share how excited you are about the upcoming season and having their children on your team. Explain your relevant background as an athlete, coach, parent, and community member. Learn more about the parents, too. You may say something like, “We’re going to spend a lot of time together so let’s get to know each other.” You may then ask each person to share a favorite memory from their sports experience.
Coaching Philosophy/Team Values
Explain your values and expectations as a Head Football Coach and hand out contact information and any other pertinent information you would like for the parents to have.
Your Introduction three principles:
Honoring the Game through the code of ROOTS (where ROOTS stands for respecting Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates and Self) Filling the Emotional Tank (aiming for the “Magic Ratio” of five truthful, specific praises for every specific, constructive criticism)
The ELM Tree of Mastery (where ELM stands for Effort, Learning and Mistakes are OK, which helps players strive to master football rather than worrying about the implications of mistakes) Ask for parents’ support in building a team culture that reinforces those principles. Must be able to stand together both the good and tough times.
Goals and Hopes for the Season
In addition to goals such as winning and qualifying for post-season, share such goals as, “Every player” will:
Love football at least as much at the end of the season as at the beginning improve skills and tactical knowledge get chances to compete in meaningful situations
Want to return next season.
Ask parents about their goals and hopes for the season. This may give insight into the player’s motivation. You also will begin to disconcern who will be most helpful and supportive of your goals, and who may present a potential problem. You don’t have to respond to everything right then – you can think about it and talk with parents later if they express goals that are inconsistent with your values.
About the Author of this post:
Jerry Campbell has over 30 years of high school and college coaching experience. He has experience as a head coach, offensive coordinator, and various position coaches. He has written numerous football coaching articles in various publications, is the author of over 30 books on coaching football, and has produced 12 coaching video series. Additionally, he is a nationally sought after speaker on the coaching clinic circuit.