Why do parents blame the coach?

By Janis Meredith | Posted 4/6/2018

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

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? Why do you need to blame someone at all? Blaming doesn't resolve the issue, and here’s why:

Excuses are easy. 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'll too often become the reaction to anything that goes wrong in the game. It's also an attitude that can carry over to life.

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

Chastising 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're 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've labeled that same coach a hero for the brave play-calling.

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Parents don't know what this looks like from the other side of the bench until they've walked in a coach’s shoes and experienced the responsibility that comes with the job. Blame is an easy alternative to understanding.

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

Janis B. Meredith is a life coach for sports parents. She provides resources to help parents raise champions. Learn more about how she can help parents have Less Stress and More Fun in youth sports.

This is an updated version of a blog that originally published Sept. 13, 2017.