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Parent-Coach Relationships

Both parenting and coaching are very difficult vocations. By establishing an understanding between coaches and parents, both are better able to accept the actions of the other and provide a more positive experience for everyone. 

Parents have the right to know, and understand, the expectations placed on them and their children. Coaches have the right to know that if parents have a concern, they will discuss it with the coach at the appropriate time and place.

Communication Parents Can Expect from the Coach

  • Coach's philosophy
  • Expectations the coach has for your son or daughter, as well as other players on the team
  • Locations and times of practices and contests
  • Team requirements, i.e., fees, special equipment needed, school and team rules, off-season expectations
  • Procedures that will be followed if your child becomes injured during participation

Communication Coaches Can Expect from Parents

  • Concerns regarding their son or daughter expressed directly to the coach at the appropriate time and place
  • Specific concerns in regard to the coach's philosophy and/or expectations
  • Notification of any schedule conflicts well in advance

Appropriate Concerns to Discuss with the Coach

It's important to understand that there may be times when things do not go the way you or your child wishes. These are the times discussion with the coach is encouraged:

  • The mental and physical treatment of your child
  • What your child needs to do to improve
  • Concerns about your child's behavior

Inappropriate Topics for Discussion with the Coach

It is very difficult to accept your child is not playing as much as you may hope. Coaches make decisions based on what they believe is in the best interests of all students participating. As you can see from the list above, certain things can and should be discussed with your child's coach. Other things, such as those listed next, must be left to the discretion of the coach:

  • How much playing time each athlete is getting
  • Team strategy
  • Play calling
  • Any situation that deals with other student-athletes

Parent-Coach Conferences

There are situations that may require a conference between the coach and parent. These are not discouraged, as it is important for each party to have a clear understanding of the others' position. When these conferences are necessary, the following procedure is suggested to help promote resolution to the issue.

If a parent has a concern to discuss with the coach:

  • Call the coach to set up an appointment.
  • If the coach cannot be reached, call the athletic director and ask him or her to set up a meeting with the coach for you.
  • Think about what you expect to accomplish as a result of the meeting.
  • Stick to discussing the facts, as you understand them.
  • Do not confront the coach before, during or after a practice or contest. These can be emotional times for both the parent and coach. Meetings of this nature do not promote resolution of the situation, but often escalate it.
  • If the meeting with the coach doesn’t provide a satisfactory resolution, call the athletic director to set up a meeting with the athletic director, coach, and parent present. At this meeting, an appropriate next step can be determined, if necessary.

Credit: Information provided by the Iowa Athletic Council via the Iowa Athletic Association