What to do when your child is unhappy with the coach

By Janis Meredith | Posted 8/2/2017

Have your children come home frustrated after practices and games because they feel the coach never listens to them?

Maybe they’ve tried to tell the coach they don’t like to play a certain position. Perhaps they’ve been asking the coach why they can’t get more playing time, and the only answer they’re getting is a brush-off, acknowledgment but no response, or absolutely no indication the coach is listening.

What should your child do?

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Option 1: Complain to you so that you will confront the coach.

This option may or may not work. Although most coaches will hear you out, they’re probably not going to change the game plan. They’ve got the whole team to think about, not just your child.

Option 2: Have your child talk to the coach.

You may say your child has already done this, but perhaps they need to be more intentional. Encourage your children to ask the coach for a few minutes of time after practice or even away from the field. How your child approaches that conversation leads to option 3.

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Option 3: Ask the coach the right questions.

This is crucial. Asking the right questions is key to getting helpful answers. Questions like, “Why am I sitting the bench so much?” or, “Why can’t I play quarterback?” tend to sound more like whining and complaining.

If your children want to talk about playing time, they should ask, “What can I do to get on your radar, Coach?” Or “What do I need to work on so I can be in the game more?”

If your child wants to talk about playing a certain position, then the questions might be, “What do I need to show you to get in the rotation for this position?” or, “What can I do on my own that will help me be better at this position?”

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These types of questions are not accusatory; they are actually putting the responsibility on your child to do the work, not on the coach to rework the rotations.

If your child wants to approach the coach, talk them through the conversation before they approach the coach. Then, let your child handle the challenge one-on-one with the coach. A hungry player makes a bigger impression than a complaining parent.

Option 4: Let on-field play do the talking.

The final option is for your child to simply buckle down and do the work so their actions speak loud and clear. When your child is coachable, focuses on doing the little things right, shows up early and isn’t the first to leave, proves to be a team player, and plays with good sportsmanship, good coaches will take notice.

Think about these four options. Which will work the best for your child?

Janis B. Meredith is a sports parenting blogger, podcaster, and life coach. She provides resources to help parents give their children a positive and growing youth sports experience. Learn more about good sports parenting habits in her book 11 Habits for Happy & Positive Sports Parents, available on Amazon.