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Monday, October 26, 2009

10 Ways to Maintain a Good Parent-Coach Relationship

The Baseball 2Day Coaching Journal

By Jack Perconte

Most negative experiences in athletics involve tension between coaches and parents of athletes. Most of the time, kids are very content with playing, having fun and being around their friends. Usually, players become discontented only after mom or dad have started grumbling about the way the coach is treating their child with playing time or position played. Once a parent has put this negative attitude in the player's mind they become a "grumbling" player towards the coach. This unhappy attitude can be prevented if parents and coaches develop a good relationship, especially at the beginning of the season. Here is how:

Suggestions for coaches to develop a successful parent-coach relationship:

1. Give team parents background information about all the coaches, especially about playing and/or coaching experience related to the game. (This should not have to be mentioned but honesty about backgrounds is paramount to developing trust.)

2. Express philosophy of coaching. The three ultimate objectives are winning, player development and fun. Specifically state where coaches stand on these three objectives. I suggest a 30, 30, 30 split on these objectives and applying the remaining 10 percent for the area most needed. This 10 percent will be determined by the competitiveness of the team and the league.

3. Explain team goals and individual player expectations for the upcoming season. I believe it is alright to play to win even at younger levels, as long as it is kept in perspective. Remember, developing skills and having fun are always an objective. Having to deal with winning and losing will create many teaching moments that will be important for kids to learn.

4. Discuss philosophy about playing time and positions played. For example, will players have to earn their position on the field or will coaches rotate players equally? Give parents a chance to ask questions, and make sure answers are clearly understood. Be sure to recognize and discuss the objectives of the league and level at which the team is playing.

5. Listen and discuss the parent's objectives for their own kids. Parents who have obvious differences in objectives than the coaches may have to look for another team for their kid if they cannot come to an understanding.

6. Discuss when and how coaches can be approached during the season so there are no public confrontations. Set up a system where discussions are held away from the players, other parents and the crowds. There will be issues that arise from time to time, but letting parents know that disagreements will be handled in a civil way, away from the players, is crucial.

7. Discuss coaching policies when players miss practices or games, so everybody is treated the same and all are clear about the policy.

8. Effective communication is the key to averting problems - make sure parents inform their kids about the coaches' philosophies.

9. As mentioned, troubles begin when parents start to grumble at home to the players about the coach. Insisting that parents approach coaches before getting upset and expressing that displeasure at home is essential to keeping players from becoming unhappy about their coach.

10. Most issues arise because parents do not feel the coach is being fair. It is important that coaches fulfill his or her philosophy that was initially expressed. Changing philosophy in the middle of the season will create problems. If a coach feels a philosophy change is totally necessary, they must discuss possible change with all parents first.

Finally, coaches should be role models and teachers to their players. It is easier to help players develop their skills and enjoy the game when the parents understand the reasoning behind the coaches' philosophies.

Former major league baseball player, Jack Perconte gives baseball hitting tips and batting practice advice for ballplayers of all ages. His baseball hitting lessons advice can be found at Jack is the author of two books, The Making of a Hitter and Raising an Athlete - his parenting blog can be found at

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick