How do you, as a parent, approach your child’s interscholastic athletic coach when you have an issue?
Using God’s word, I’ve written 26 ways to bless your children’s coaches through godly communication.
A lways wait for an appropriate time to talk to a coach about an issue. Proverbs 15:23
B e wise. Proverbs 16:21a
C omplement the coach. Proverbs 16:21b
D on’t talk to the coach when you’re angry. Proverbs 17:27
E ncourage your child’s coach. Hebrews 10:24-25
Here are five more ways to pursue godly communication and bless our kid’s coaches, F through J.
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Find out all the facts first
There is nothing more embarrassing than going to a coach, confronting him or her, and learning that you’ve been given incorrect or incomplete information.
There’re always two sides to every story, and sometimes the facts may get lost in the emotional reaction your child is having to a problem. A child’s perception is their reality but not necessarily the correct reality.
Parent, get as much information as you can about a given situation before going to the coach with a problem.
Many times my children have come home upset at a coach for some reason and after I questioned them and pieced together the facts, I realize that the problem isn’t with the coach but with my child’s misinformation or misunderstanding.
Proverbs 15:14 observes, “The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge.”
Knowing the full scope of a situation will give you power to help solve problems and keep you from creating more problems by overreacting.
Go to coaches first with your issues, not to their bosses
We all have people in authority over us. Coaches are no different. They have athletic directors as their bosses, and athletic directors have principals or superintendents as their bosses.
Never start at the top with your grievances. If you have a problem that you think needs resolving, go directly to your child’s coach first.
I would suggest that you document your discussion. You can either jot things down during your discussion or write them down immediately after the meeting. This isn’t to build your case but to keep an account so that there is a timely resolution for your child.
If you must go to the next level of authority, inform the coach and again document the meeting and take notes of what was said.
Coaches are public servants and we pay their salaries, so don’t be intimidated or put off about seeking the answers you need. But avoid going over a coach’s head to his or her bosses until you feel you have no other choice.
Most superintendents want the AD to handle issues relating to sports, so they will deflect your concerns back to that department, and your attempt at an end around will create hard feelings from the coaches involved.
Coaches are a close-knit family, and they will circle the wagons to protect their own. Don’t give them a reason to rally together against you.
Following the proper channels of command show that you respect their authority, and it speaks volumes about your character.
1 Peter 2:17, “Show proper respect for everyone, love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, and honor the king.”
Have specific issues to discuss when you confront a coach
You will be much more effective in your communication if you are very specific about the problem or situation that you need to discuss.
Avoid accusatory statements, especially those that involve words like “always” and “never.” State the problem or concern as clearly as you can without anger, malice, or pre-judgement.
You may even want to rehearse what you are going to say and exactly how you are going to say it. You could even bring notes with you if necessary.
“The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly” (Proverbs 15:2).
Hopefully, you’re well-prepared communication will bring knowledge and insight to the coach about the situation.
Remember that your goal is effective communication that brings healing, insight, and grace to bless both your child and the coach.
Include your spouse when possible
It’s wise for husbands and wives to discuss the issue or problem and try to determine their best course of action before approaching a coach.
There’ve been many times when my husband and I have talked through problems to our satisfaction without having to approach a coach with our concerns.
And sometimes we realized that we’re the ones with the problem or our child is the one with the problem.
A spouse’s perspective is always invaluable in being sure of the problem, and once we’ve determined there really is one worth addressing outside our own home, a united front is always more formidable.
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves…”(Ecclesiastes 4:12).
Coaching is a demanding profession! I have great empathy for coaches and I try not to judge them, condemn them, or criticize them.
This isn’t always easy for me because being a coach, I sometimes hold other coaches to a higher standard.
But sitting in the stands, I’ve heard outrageous comments from parents, and I’ve learned to two things.
First, parents usually don’t know the specific physical skills needed to play the game, the rules governing the game, or the strategies involved in the game.
Second, they think they do!
It seems like everyone in the stands is an expert who thinks he or she knows best!
If every parent had to coach their own children in a sport, I believe judging would come to an abrupt halt.
“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1–3)
Give coaches a break. Take a moment before going to a coach for some introspection and prayer. Ask the Lord to reveal any log that may be poking your own eye.
Using these practical steps to communication will build a sturdy bridge to any coaching staff, and when you must walk over to discuss an issue you will hopefully be received with the grace that you’ve already given them.