One thing that should be understood about sports at high school and middle school levels is that guardians and parents are a vital factor that will drastically improve or break athlete performance. As athletic administrators and coaches take opportunities to get parents involved in a way that is responsible and healthy, parents give an extra emotional support. This can be a huge difference in the ability of an athlete.
Unfortunately, there are wrong ways in which to communicate with parents as a coach. Most people do not actually know that much about how to communicate in an effective way so we should highlight some really important tips from someone that does understand a lot about communication and personality in sports, Ryan Grigson.
Hold Pre-Season Meetings
A pre-season meeting is when you want to communicate program and coaching philosophy. Every single athletic program will have core vision and values. It aims to create experiences that can help athletes prosper and grow. As the family of the new athlete is introduced to the coaching program you have to emphasize and clarify the values you are interested in. This is because the parent wants to be sure that the child will get involved in programs that are actually useful for them. In addition, they do want to talk to the coach and understand the perspective that is brought to the table. The pre-season meeting needs to be honest and open, based on clear and effective communication.
Communication needs to continue as often as is necessary, especially when on the road. Be sure that you offer frequent updates so that parents can know data about locations, practice times and games played. They should also be informed about requirements like equipment, training and even off-season conditioning. Since we talk about updates, be sure you also discuss disciplinary actions and the circumstances when they become active. Such details sometimes change. If this is the case, be sure parents are informed.
Handling Parent Concerns
The parent has the right to expect that it will be easy to talk with the coach when there are important concerns that have to be addressed. This means the coach needs to offer parents the option to set up a one-on-one meeting. As an example, a parent might want to talk about the child’s physical and mental well-being, how they can help and how to manage child behavior in specific situations. The best coach always works with the parents in order to make sure students reach full potential. This is true both on and off the field.
Last but not least, you want to be sure there is a line of communication opened but that boundaries are set. There are many parents that are going to push the boundaries as they think their students should receive special recognition and treatment. Always set ground rules and remember that discussions have to avoid things like team strategy, other student athlete’s behavior, performance and play calling. Since you are the coach, you are the one that needs to keep reminding parents that you are the coach and that at the end of the day, this is all just a game.