Why do parents blame the coach?

By Janis Meredith | Posted 9/13/2017

It’s easy to blame the coach when things don’t go as we’d like.

Coaches are easy targets. When your child is not playing to their potential, when your child is sitting too long on the bench, or when you don’t like the way a play turned out, parents are on the prowl for someone to blame, and usually, the coach is the first option.

I understand this instinct. I resorted to it often during my 22-years of being a sports mom. But here’s the honest truth: rarely is the coach to blame for what sports parents perceive to be delinquent coaching.

Then who is to blame? You may ask.

And I will answer: Why do you need to blame someone? Blaming does not resolve the issue, and here’s why:

Excuses are an easy scapegoat. They may make your child feel justified for a moment, but they never help them improve, or fix what went wrong. If making excuses becomes a habit, then it will too often become the reaction to anything that goes wrong in the game.

Blaming becomes an epidemic. Sometimes the blame game looks like the hot potato game. One kid blames another kid, who then blames another as quickly as possible, who then passes the blame on to someone else.  Passing the blame around doesn’t help kids learn how to fix what went wrong.

Blaming the coach for something you don’t like is an easy way out of an uncomfortable situation. It’s much harder to ask your child to examine their performance to see if they could have done something different. It’s hard for kids to accept the blame. When your child makes a mistake, encourage them to acknowledge it, admit it to their teammates, and learn from it.

Blaming the coach for a play you didn’t agree with is a venting mechanism.
You are frustrated with the call. Perhaps your child’s team lost the game on a play or a player change that you disagreed with. Yes, this is frustrating. But if that coach’s decision had worked, you would have labeled that same coach a hero for their brave play-calling.

Parents do not know what this looks like from the other side of the bench until you’ve walked in a coach’s shoes and experienced the responsibility that comes with the job. Blaming is an easy alternative to seeking to understand.

Of course, all coaches are not perfect. They make mistakes, and you may even be justified in your frustration, but blaming is not the answer to the difficulty. Help your child see that blaming coaches, players or officials will never help them improve. It will only distract your child from seeing the real problems. 

Janis B. Meredith is a sportsparenting blogger, podcaster, and life coach. She provides re-sources 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.