Jun 1, 2018Parental Pressure
For years, we have seen articles, surveys, and professional presentations indicating that misguided parents are the number-one problem for coaches and athletic directors. However, coaches and athletic directors aren’t the only people being harmed by overzealous parents. Some parents also pressure, embarrass, and create problems for their own child.
Why does this happen? There are several possible explanations. Some parents may be trying to live through their child, while others are trying to recreate or improve upon their own athletic career. There are parents who are thinking about college scholarships, and still others who are simply trying to control all aspects of their children’s lives, including their athletic endeavors.
As a coach, what can you do to help when one of your athletes is being damaged by a parent’s negative approach? The following suggestions should get you started.
Acknowledge the problem. Recognize that some parents have unrealistic expectations and create harmful pressure for their son or daughter. Being aware of this dynamic is an important first step. If you don’t notice when a parent is being overbearing, you won’t be in a position to take action to help your player.
Talk with the player. If you see that one of your athletes is being pressured by a parent, sit down with the athlete and clarify your expectations. Clearly explain that all you require is hard work and a receptive attitude. Remind the athlete that anyone on the team can earn more playing time with good effort and improvement, and that this is all you ask.
Involve your administrator. Before you confront a problem parent, seek advice from your athletic director as to when and how you should communicate your concerns. Why go to your athletic director? In addition to getting some good suggestions, you will want his or her support when dealing with the difficult parent.
Meet with the parent. The next step is to schedule a meeting with the parent who is pressuring their child. During this session, present your observations as to how their approach is adversely affecting the athlete and offer concrete suggestions to improve their approach. You may also want to invite your athletic director to join you at this meeting. Having a third party is always good whenever things may become contentious and difficult.
Provide positivity. Adjust the way you correct mistakes in practice with athletes who are pressured by parents. While you should still make suggestions and correct technique, try to do so as positively as possible. Fine tune your feedback so you are not adding to the negative experience created by the child’s parents.
Check in. Reach out occasionally to athletes who face unrealistic parental expectations and ask how they are doing. Reassure them that you are glad that they are part of the team and enjoy coaching them. And conclude with, “Keep working hard. I believe in you!
Open your door extra wide. Remind athletes who have overbearing parents that they can stop in and talk with you whenever they need to vent or seek advice. While you may already have an open-door policy with the players on your team