What Coaches Want Parents To Know

‘It’s all political’, ‘he just doesn’t like my daughter’, ‘he has his favorites that he plays all the time’…..

Sound familiar? I guarantee those three phrases have been said about every coach in the country in regards to playing time. I want to take a few minutes to discuss those quotes a little and discuss the parents’ role (or at least what my opinion is of the parents’ role) during their child’s athletic career.

‘It’s all political’.…..this is a phrase usually uttered by parents whose child isn’t playing as much as they want them to. Presumably, they are suggesting that by playing certain kids, coaches receive favors from parents of those kids. This now relieves the parent from the burden of accepting the reality that their kid might not be as good a player as someone else’s. It’s just an excuse. There is probably a coach or two somewhere that does receive some sort of favor, but I’ve never met them. As for me, and most of the people I know, I’m still waiting for those favors. I had hoped in my retirement, that all the favors I have been accused of getting over the years because of ‘politics’ would start rolling in! Coaches want to win, they will play kids that will help them win, regardless of ‘politics’.

‘He just doesn’t like my son/daughter’……relationships between coaches and players are no different than relationships between all other people: some people just mix and get along better than others. So, there is a little truth to this statement. I fully admit that coaches (like all people) have some kids that they just naturally get along with better than others. But honestly, I’ve never seen that, in and of itself, affect playing time. Again, coaches want to win! I have never (and know of no other coach that has ever) sat a kid that would help us win just because I didn’t get along as well with that kid. Here is a reality though: when a kid doesn’t like a coach, they are less willing to work, less coachable, and have a less than great attitude…..those things certainlydo affect playing time. This is where you can help as a parent…..don’t soil the relationship between your kid and their coach by constantly second-guessing and running down them down. Help your kid build a positive relationship. It doesn’t have to be a buddy-buddy relationship, but it does have to be positive and respectful…..that will help their outlook, their attitude, their coach-ability, and ultimately their playing time!

‘He has his favorites that he plays all the time’…..This statement is half-true. Coaches do actually have favorites: kids that are respectful, kids that are unselfish, kids that work hard, kids that do what’s asked of them without question, kids that care about and root for other players on the team, kids that might not have as much ability but are happy to be a part of something positive.  Those kids were my favorites, and are the favorites of every coach I know. I certainly didn’t play those kids more because they were favorites, but I always whished I could’ve! They weren’t good enough basketball players to get more playing time…..didn’t mean they weren’t great people or that they didn’t work hard….they just weren’t as good at basketball as others. That’s not a sin!

Here is what will happen if you are constantly complaining about playing time: your kid will feel like they are letting you down because they are not playing enough. Your kid will feel like you are disappointed in them. Guaranteed. Doesn’t matter if you tell them you are ‘proud of them anyway’….they know you are disappointed and will feel like it is their fault. They are probably not mature enough to realize it, but they will feel that way. And, help your kid be more enthusiastic and coachable by not running down their coach every chance you get. Participating in athletics is a tough deal…..it gets even tougher when your kid doesn’t have respect for their coach because all they hear from you is what an idiot he is for not doing this or that.

I’m definitely not saying all coaches are perfect and make great decisions every day…..I know that I booted my fair share of decisions thru the years. And I’m not saying that there aren’t coaches out there that play kids for the wrong reasons……but I would guess the percent is very small, and your kid’s coach is probably not in that percent. What I am saying is that as a parent you don’t have to try and show your kid that you love them by proving that you know more than their coach does….show them you love them by supporting them. Show them you love them even if there is someone else better than them at the sport they love, don’t make excuses or try to pretend that they are the best. It’s ok! Don’t let them tie their feeling of self-worth to their ability in athletics!

Kids in athletics have a tough job to do. And so do parents.


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