A Father’s Guide to Dealing with Coaches

As your child begins to participate in sports, you may come across a coach or two that is less than ideal. Perhaps the coach is too competitive or demeaning to the team. Regardless of the situation, knowing how to interact with your child’s coach may help you be able to make your child’s sports team experience positive.

Many coaches are volunteers and do not have professional training in the sport they are coaching. As such, a lot of their coaching is based on trial and error. Keep in mind that just because someone can play a sport well does not mean they can coach it well.

If your child’s coach is new to coaching, give them the benefit of the doubt and if you perceive problems in the coaching techniques offer to help as an assistant coach if you are able to. Sometimes a coach just needs some extra support and accountability to make practices organized and useful.

If you are not able to help with coaching, politely pull the coach aside and offer some suggestions that you think would make the team’s experience better. Keep in mind that nobody likes to be told what to do. As you think about how to talk to your child’s coach, contemplate how you would like to be talked to if the roles were reversed.

Also, choose your battles wisely. It is never a good idea to offer suggestions to a coach after every practice for minute details that you would have done differently. Nobody likes a know-it-all, so be careful to confront your child’s coach on issues that really matter.

Some coaches are overly aggressive and push kids so hard that they no longer enjoy participating in the sport. If your son or daughter is being pushed too hard, as a father, it is important to stand up for your child and ensure that they have a positive experience.

When you confront your child’s coach, always do so respectfully. If the coach gets offended or refuses to change his or her methods, you may want to consider moving your child to another team with a different coach. If a coach’s behavior is particularly inappropriate and he or she refuses to change, you may also want to consider reporting him or her to the league’s commissioner.

As a father, it is important to play an active role in your son or daughter’s life. Being there to support your children in their extracurricular activities will help them realize that they can count on your for the big and little things in life. While confronting a coach may not be high on your list of priorities, it may not only produce a positive experience for the whole team, but your son or daughter will learn that you are on their team! For more information on dealing with coaches see Rick Wolff’s book Good Sports: The Concerned Parent’s Guide to Competitive Youth Sports.