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3 Ways to Handle Sports Parents That Want to Be Too Involved

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					3 Ways to Handle Sports Parents That Want to Be Too Involved
Parents form one third of the youth sports support system (alongside coaches and other
volunteers). They are the ones driving your athletes to practices and games, providing
nutritious half-time snacks, organizing team parties and filling your stands…yes, they are
invaluable! Most parents are content in their roles as fan and supporter, but how is a coach
supposed to handle a sports parent that decides their place in on the field?

Here are 3 ways to manage the “helicopter” (that hovering) sports parent:

Establish ground rules

Make it very clear to your sports parents at the beginning of the season that the only people
allowed in the dugout or on the field are the coaches and players. You can explain that you
want to minimize the amount of distractions that could divert your player’s attention away
from the game. Having mom or dad watching from the sidelines, for some unfocused athletes
can be distracting enough! Your sports parents need to respect you as the coach and your
decisions if they fully expect their kids to do the same.

Set up a code of conduct before the season starts of what kind of behavior is and isn’t
acceptable during practices and games. Many sports organizations already have policies in
place and you can just enforce the rules. Over involved and zealous sports parents tend to be
the ones that become “those obnoxious sports parents” over the course of the seasons—the
ones that coach from the sidelines, yell at the officials and argue with other parents. You want
to prevent that behavior from happening before it has a chance to. Some parents may take
offense to being pushed back to the stands, however, simply reinforce that it’s for the well-
being and safety of their child and other children.

Get them involved in a small way

Some parents can’t help themselves…they love their kids! They have good intentions, but they
want to be involved in everything their kid is doing, including your team. If you find yourself
dealing with a parent that wants to help, find a way to let them participate but in a way that
actually helps you or your sports organization. Get them to catch for your relief pitcher or take
the soccer players on a warm-up jog around the field. Let the parent handle some of the
smaller tasks so you can focus more on the game at hand. It makes them feel involved (and
keeps them occupied) and frees up some of your time! Maybe they can help at the snack shop
or take on some additional much needed volunteer roles in your sports organization (help is
always needed!). It’s better to have a sports parent working for you then working against you.
If you can get them involved without usurping your authority as the coach than everyone gets
what they want and you don’t to worry about a confrontation later on in the season.
Speak to them privately

If you have to talk to one of your parents, make sure it is done privately. Talk to them before or
after practice or a game and explain why they need to reel it in a little bit. It’s not that you don’t
appreciate their dedication to the team and their child’s athletic career (of course you do!), but
they need to treat you like the coach so their child sees you as the coach as well. Again, it’s a
matter of respecting you as the coach and also a fellow parent. You don’t want to do this in
front of the other parents or the players as it’s embarrassing and might make your parent
defensive. Most of the times sports parents don’t even realize they’ve crossed a line, so a quick
and private reminder will get everyone back on track.

Every team is bound to have one mom or dad that thinks they missed their calling to be a youth
sports coach (you can remind them there is always room for more volunteers!). Involved
parents are great, but there is a fine line between involved parent and helicopter parent. As a
coach, you have to find a way to remind them that YOU are responsible for the coaching, safety
and well-being of the team without causing and friction between you and them.

About the Author

SportsSignup's (http://www.sportssignup.com) mission is to make it easy to manage sports
programs and events by providing organizers with an online sport registration system that
allows them to automate sport management tasks and allows members to complete
registration and purchase team gear from any internet-connected computer.

				
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posted:4/27/2012
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