Nobody wants to see her child treated unfairly during a sporting event, but what's a parent to do when it happens? Head off problems before they occur, and get your partnership with your child's coach off to a good start. Here's how:
- Mesh your goals with your coach's. Some parents want their kids to develop skills; others just want to win. The same holds true for coaches. What's his goal: to create better players and have everyone enjoy themselves, or make it to the championships? Good coaches lay out their goals and objectives when they introduce themselves to the team and the parents. In lieu of a meeting, he may outline his plans in an introductory letter or email. If your child will be involved in an individual sport, you may have the opportunity to interview the coach before getting started. Either way, the first meeting opens the lines of communication and helps all parties move forward with their eyes wide open.
- Realize coaching isn't easy. The younger your child, the more likely it is that her coach is a volunteer. And that doesn't automatically mean she has — or doesn't have — experience. Having patience and a dose of understanding can make the partnership you form a lot stronger.
- Remain diplomatic. There will come a time when your child comes off the field upset, or you feel the coach made a bad judgment. Even if your beef is legitimate, it's best to allow time for cooler heads to prevail, rather than head to the field with guns blazing.
- Don't participate in sideline gossip. The worst thing you can do is discuss a coach's failings on the sidelines with other parents or at home in front of your children. If you've got a problem, start with the coach. If that doesn't work, take it up the chain of command. But don't forget that miscommunication may be part of the problem. Give the coach the benefit of the doubt, and ask what your child can do to change the situation for the better.
- Know when to intervene. Ultimately, every parent is responsible for the health and safety of her child. If you've got a terrible coach that is swearing at the children or shoving a kid up against the wall to make a point, don't hesitate to act. But if you can remain calm and professional, you'll show your children the right way to handle any situation they may encounter, now and in the future.