What’s a parent to do when a child says, “My coach doesn’t like me”?

By Janis Meredith | Posted 5/5/2014

What would you do if your child came home from practice and proclaimed, “My coach doesn’t like me!”

You might insist that isn’t true. 

“You’re misreading him.”  or  “Maybe she was just grumpy today.”

But whether or not it is true, your child still feels as if his coach dislikes him.

It’s happened to my kids, and if your child plays for any length of time, it will happen to him, too. And when it does, what will you tell him? Quit? Don’t listen to the coach? Tough it out?

Next time your child faces this, remember:

  • When you argue, "of course your coach likes you," it probably will fall on deaf ears. Your child feels what he feels and rational explanations will really not do much good to convince him otherwise.
  • Ask your children why exactly they feel this way. Listen, listen, listen. In there somewhere you will most likely hear something that will help you help your child. You might be able to help him by giving explanations for the coach’s behavior that they may be misreading, such as lack of playing time or the coach pushing to work harder.
  • Confronting the coach is a waste of time. Because of course, they will deny it. "Oh sorry, Mrs. Smith, you’re right, I really can’t stand your kid." Not gonna happen.
  • If your child is small, and you feel his claims are valid, encourage him to finish the season and then don’t sign up for that team again. If your child is older and is feeling courageous, he might ask the coach himself, “Coach, did I do something to displease you? Is there anything I’m not doing that I should be doing?”
  • If there is verbal abuse, it’s time for a little chat with coach. Calmly. In his office. Face to face.
  • Sometimes, it’s just a matter of understanding the coach. Encourage your child to seek to understand the coach – his philosophy, his strategy, his expectations. Once he has that figured out, he may feel totally different. His feelings that he is disliked may have more to do with his own frustration than the coach.
  • If there is nothing you and your child can really pinpoint, it’s just a “feeling,” then encourage your young athlete to listen to and respect the coach and to play for the love of the game, not the coach’s favor. We’ve always told our kids to play for God and for their own love of the game, so even if they were feeling disliked by coach, they could still give their best effort because they weren’t playing to please him.

When coach clashes happens, it is another opportunity for your child to learn how to get along with difficult people. A lesson he will be learning the rest of his life.

Janis Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. Check out her Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series with survival guides for football, softball, basketball and volleyball moms.