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What Do You Do When Your Child Doesn’t Like His Coach?

What Do You Do When Your Child Doesn’t Like His Coach?

Through 20 years of sports parenting, I’ve had my kids coached by at least 80 coaches. A variety of just about every kind you can imagine. We’ve had emotional coaches who love to yell, the poker-faced coach who doesn’t say much at all, the I-want-make-everyone-happy coach, and the I-only-care-about-winning coach. Even though it’s been quite a parade of coaching personalities and styles, I have concluded that there are really only two kinds of coaches: the ones we like and the ones we don’t.

You will undoubtedly have both. When that day comes–the day when your child comes home and says, “I can’t stand my coach!”–what will you do? Perhaps you’d be like one mom I know who said, “Tough. Deal with it. You are never going to like everyone who is in authority over you. You need to learn to work it out.”

Or maybe your approach is a bit gentler like another mom I know, “This is a great opportunity to learn a life skill. You will be put in situations where you have to work with people you don’t like your whole life.” Consider this strategy when your child tells you he doesn’t like his coach.

  • Let him vent his frustration without judging his feelings.
  • Discuss the situation with your child. Is a coach/parent or coach/player confrontation needed?
  • If a confrontation does not help the situation–and moral or abusive issues are not the problem–then you and your child may simply have to agree to disagree with the coach.
  • Keep your conversations about the coach between you and your child; don’t complain to other parents.
  • If you agree to disagree with the coach and stay on the team, accept the situation and move on; don’t keep bringing up the unfairness of the situation to your child.
  • If you need to, vent your frustrations with your spouse or a friend (not two or three or four). Then leave it at home when you go to games.
  • Teach your child to treat the coach with respect, even if he feels the coach doesn’t like him.
  • Model that respect for the coach.

And there are definitely some things you should not do when your child feels a coach’s dislike.

  • Stir up trouble behind the coach’s back. If you have a problem, at least have the guts to confront the coach face to face instead of behind his back.
  • Try to get the coach fired. If you try to get rid of a coach because you do not like him, what are you teaching your child? To  get rid of people we don’t like? I’ve seen many parents complain to the administration and try to get coaches fired simply because their child was not playing enough or playing a certain position. How does that child ever learn to fight her own battles?

This may be hard to believe, but there’s always something your child can learn from his coach (even if it’s simply how not to coach). Help him look for the good in people  and see this as an opportunity to learn how to work with someone who is difficult. If your child can learn this while he’s young, and with you helping him unpack his thoughts and feelings, he will have a head start in learning life skills for future bosses.

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