Coaching youth sports can be one of the most rewarding jobs a person can have. Teaching young boys and girls the fundamentals along with how to compete at an early age is what drives many adults to donate their free time to coaching.
However, there are some aspects of being the head coach of a youth team that can be problematic if not handled correctly. One of those is dealing with parents.
While most parents have their child’s best welfare at heart, that doesn’t make them the best judge of when to lay down a bunt or steal second base. That’s why it’s important for coaches to establish their philosophy with the parents of their players, says Oklahoma Lady Defenders softball coach Micheal Carrington.
“The best way is being honest with how you run your team,” Carrington said. “Emphasize what is important in the development of their child, which includes playing right and how teamwork will improve the team.”
Carrington has been a summer league travel coach in Oklahoma for teams as young as 9U while also being the skipper for teams in middle school and junior high.
In his almost decade of coaching, Carrington has found that getting parents to understand his philosophy needs to happen as soon as possible.
“Main reason I feel that it is important to have an understanding with parents is to keep potential problems down,” Carrington said. “I love walking into a practice with my team and the girls are ready to work.”
Carrington knows that the few hours a day he might spend with his players is nothing compared to the time they spend with their parents. Adults who teach and coach their children at home can have the biggest influence on a player.
That’s why it’s important for the coaches and parents to be on the same page when it comes to what the coach’s philosophy and instructions are, Carrington said.
“I feel it’s something that needs to be discussed as many times as possible,” he said. “As a coach, you have to always have something to work on with the players. Parents now days are very vocal, and as a coach you need to listen to their concerns. And if it’s something that involves the development for the team, then I would need to change something to make sure the girls are developing the correct way.”
Carrington says for the most part, parents understand and respect what he is trying to get across to the players. But not every parent comes to the same conclusion.
There are times when parents believe they know more than the coach or do not like how the coach is teaching them. That’s when Carrington’s diplomatic side has to come out.
“I listen to them and I respond to them. Most of the time it’s usually a misunderstanding, but if it’s something extreme we usually part ways just because some parents have other goals that they want than the coach,” Carrington said. “I know I can’t make everyone happy and sometimes as a coach, when I first started to coach, I would stress myself out a lot to make sure everyone is happy.
“Now, after being involved with coaching for a few years, sometimes you just can’t make people happy. You have to go with what’s best for the team.”
From GameChanger and Michael Kinney.