Having commiserated with disgruntled and dissatisfied parents through the years, I can testify that communicating with coaches—particularly in the junior high and high school interscholastic setting—is one of the main causes of parental frustration.
I have a unique perspective in that I am both a coach and a parent, so I can empathize with both sides of this prickly problem.
Parents are accustomed to having direct access to their children’s teachers by way of conference periods, open-houses at school, e-mails, and even parent internet access where grades are available in real time.
However, with school athletics, parents do not have the same level of access to coaches, and many school administrators have limited involvement with the coaching staff, preferring to leave that to athletic directors.
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Therefore, not knowing how to handle conflicts that arise with athletics, parents oftentimes feel helpless to express their concerns.
I believe thoughtful communication is possible, but we need to use some commonsense procedures when talking to coaches, so that we bless the coach and our child too.
I’ve assembled a list from A to Z, of twenty-six suggestions, giving helpful insights into the sometimes daunting process of communicating with coaches. Here is A-E!
Always wait until an appropriate time to confront a coach with a particular issue
A coach’s world is filled with adrenalin-charged circumstances, and most coaches ride an emotional roller coaster that is either up or down depending on the outcome of their team’s game.
Therefore, never approach a coach to air a problem or concern immediately after a game. Time helps give a coach perspective and objectivity, and every coach needs to decompress after a game.
This cooling off time can help a parent decompress as well.
Also, it’s always better to approach a coach with your concerns when they aren’t working or supervising kids. Pick a time when they have a conference period, or email them, allowing them to respond at their convenience.
Most coaches are affable, gregarious people who love to talk about the game they love and the players they coach, so catching them at the right time will maximize the positive potential of your visit.
Proverbs 15:23, “How delightful is a timely word.” Timing is everything.
You must show wisdom not only in regard to the when and where but also the why and how of your communication with your athlete’s coach.
James 1:5 promises us that God will give us wisdom when we ask him for it, and Proverbs 16:21 states, “The wise in heart will be called understanding.”
So parents, I propose that you pray, asking for wisdom and clarity about the situation, before you go.
Having a godly perspective will help when confronting a coach.
As believers, an understanding attitude leading to a peaceful resolution should be the goal of all of our interpersonal communication. So seek wisdom first.
Complement the coach
A coach is just like anyone one else. They respond better when recognized for their hard work. Compliment them on specific things that you see them doing well.
Even if you struggle to respect a particular coach, or don’t agree with everything they do, you can find something positive to say.
This is just basic human psychology. Everyone loves to be affirmed, and your well-placed compliments to a coach can build a sturdy bridge of trust as you seek to communicate effectively with them.
You may need to walk over this bridge in the future with a concern, so build it to last.
“...sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness” Proverbs 16:21
Don’t talk to a coach when you’re angry
Nothing good will come from confronting a coach in anger. Coaches tend to be strong-minded and tough-skinned, yet secretly sensitive.
Most likely, they will meet your emotional fire with a fire of their own. Be careful not to create long-term bitterness and hard feelings by wounding them with insensitive words.
Coaches are a close knit fraternity of comrades, and they talk trade freely among themselves.
Consequently, a parent’s questionable reputation, deserved or not, might follow the athlete through their school years.
So restrain your anger, preserving your reputation and decluttering your child’s athletic path.
“He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” Proverbs 17:27
Encourage your child’s coach
To encourage someone means to inspire them to continue on a chosen course, to impart courage or confidence to them, to embolden them, to give them support.
Genuine encouragement goes above and beyond a compliment.
Hebrews 10:24–25 exhorts, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds…encouraging one another.”
Although this passage obviously speaks to how believers should treat one another, I believe the principle is universal. As Christians, we should look for ways to bring encouragement to others.
Parents, many coaches are believers too, so we clearly have a God-given charge to look out for their welfare.
For example, if a child complains about the coach, we can empathize with our child, but we should also attempt to help them see the coach’s perspective in the situation. There are always two sides to every issue.
The quickest way to tear down a coach’s chance to positively impact our children is to undercut the coach with our negative attitudes, criticism, and verbal attacks.
This evenhandedness shows your child that you support the authority of the coach, and this encourages them to be supportive of that authority too.
Every coach would be greatly encouraged with consistent parental support. Let’s stimulate our children’s coaches to become strong, loving, godly role models through our consistent encouragement.