6 ways to work through parent-coach disagreements

By Janis Meredith | Posted 5/2/2016

Your child’s coaches may be nice guys, or they could be total jerk. Either way, there will be times when you will disagree with them.

Whether it’s about playing time, game strategy or even the way they talk to the kids, the bottom line is that you think they are plain wrong.

I’ve seen parents handle this in a variety of ways. Every situation is different, and there’s really not one way to handle it, but here are six things you should think about when approaching the situation the next time it comes up.

  • Your child’s coach is not the enemy. You may not like him, and you may not agree with his coaching philosophy, but he is doing you a service by giving his time to coach your child. Don’t treat him as the enemy. If you don’t like what he does, try to be a waffle-brain – separating thoughts into different squares like waffles – and isolate his strategies from him as a person. That way you can be nice to him as a person, even if you don’t like the way he coaches.
  • Your child’s coach is human. He will make mistakes. The problem is that as a leader he is held to a higher standard, which he should be. However, sometimes parents expect better behavior from coaches than they do of themselves. Give grace for his mistakes. Hopefully, he’s returning the favor for yours.
  • Your child’s coach needs honest communication. When you have a disagreement with the coach, the best way to handle it is to go right to the source. Not to your child, the other parents or even the administrator. Give thee coach the courtesy of calm, honest communication. Express your concerns and make an effort to work together with him for the good of the team.
  • Your child’s coach will not be around forever. As long as the coach is not mistreating players or setting a bad moral example, you may just have to live with the fact that you do not agree with him. I’m not saying he’s right. I’m saying that you may have to agree to disagree until the season is over and recognize that the time will come for your child to move on to another coach and team.
  • Your child’s coach should not be bashed. Perhaps you think your child’s coach is just plain wrong about something. If so, what do you say to your kids? To other parents? Badmouthing a coach in front of players and other parents will not change his behavior. It will only stir up dissension and discontent. Bashing a coach does not resolve the situation.
  • Your child’s coach may not be right, but he may not be wrong either. It may boil down to the fact that you don’t like the way he does things. And quite honestly, there may not be much you can do about that, except to agree to disagree agreeably.

It could be that he thinks you are the one who’s wrong. Use this as an opportunity to model for your child how to resolve conflict and get along with people who don’t do the things the way we think they should be done.

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach's wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. She authored the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series and has a podcasting series for sports parents. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.