One of the most important on-field relationships is between coaches and their players. One of the most important relationships off the field is between coaches and parents. A group meeting with your team’s manager and coaches is among the best ways to create an environment that is positive and full of character-building moments. At the same time, understanding how to address a situation can help to eliminate almost every negative, confrontational conversation that could arise later in the Little League® season.
Parents and coaches should meet before the first game of the season. If the managers and coaches don’t do that, then the parents should request such a meeting. This meeting should cover the manager’s and coaches’ approach to their roles — especially in terms of pursuing wins and developing character in players – as well as a philosophy around playing time, effort in practice and how players, coaches and parents can most effectively communicate.
For example, coaches may ask parents to observe a 24-hour rule, where, unless the parents see their children in imminent physical danger, they should let any matters of difference rest for 24 hours before raising them as issues.
When parents feel the need to approach a coach, here are a few guidelines to consider before doing so:
- Consider whether the issue on your mind is actually an issue for your child. For example, does it bother your daughter – or just you – that she is batting sixth instead of third?
- If it is your child’s issue, and your child is old enough to articulate it, let the child approach the coach. Coaches gain a new understanding of their impact by hearing about it from a child. Coaches also may be more moved by the child than by a parent and will gain a new respect for the child’s maturity, caring and commitment to becoming the best player and teammate possible. Plus, your child will learn a key life lesson in self-advocacy that will be critical to future health and success in family life, school and employment.
- If you end up approaching the coach, do so privately. E-mail or phone in advance to ask for some time to discuss a matter of concern to you. Then, when speaking with the coach, it will help to thank him or her for commitment to the team and for something the coach has done well, rather than just launching into your grievance.
- Ask questions that let the coach explain (for example, “I’m interested in learning how you decide on the batting order” as opposed to “Why is Johnny hitting sixth?”).
Just about every productive result of a parent-coach partnership stems from proactive, positive contact. An early-season introductory meeting between coaches and parents is a great way to open the lines of communication and share team rules. The manager and coaches, who are often parents too, welcome the willingness of parents to work with them to make a fun and enjoyable experience for the children.
Article provided by Positive Coaching Alliance