Like all sports parents, I hated to hear my kids come home from practice and say, “I don’t like my coach.” My stomach would drop, and I knew it could be a very long and potentially difficult season.
I knew my kids would take their cues from me, so I tried to react in a way that would help them make it a good season — not a season where they just managed through without too much difficulty.
RELATED CONTENT: Two ways for your young athlete to face pain
When it happens to you and your child, consider adopting this approach:
Let your child know, no matter what, you are on their side.
This does not mean that you talk down the coach, it simply means that you listen to, support and believe in your child, no matter the situation they face.
Find out what exactly your child means by “I don’t like the coach.”
It may be that your child doesn’t like the hard work, the long practices, their playing time or the way practice is run.
Help your child sort out the reason for their dislike. Once you do that, you at least have a clear idea of what you are dealing with.
RELATED CONTENT: 10 signs you're a rock star sports parent
Or, your child doesn’t like the coach because they think the coach doesn’t like them. Again, help your child pinpoint exactly why they think that. It may be that your child is mistaking a coach’s intentions. For instance, your child may think the coach doesn’t like them because the coach is always pushing them to do better, when actually the coach sees their potential and wants to help them reach it.
Ask your child what they can do to help the situation.
Although you and your young athlete can’t necessarily repair a past mishap, you can talk with them about what they can do on their end to repair or nurture the relationship with their coach.
Your child may be willing to sit down with mom and/or dad, the coach and have a real heart-to-heart talk. This shows your young athlete how to have hard conversations in order to solve problems.
Decide if and when it’s time to talk to the coach
If you and your child cannot sort through this on your own, you may want to make an appointment to talk to the coach. I say, “make an appointment” because this conversation should not take place in a heated moment when you are reacting emotionally to something.
RELATED CONTENT: 3 next steps to get your athlete ready to play at a higher level
Come to the coach with questions, not accusations, and let them know you are interested in what’s best for your child and for the team — not in venting frustrations. It may all boil down to a simple misunderstanding that can be easily resolved, or it may take some work from both your child and the coach to resolve the issue.
Learning to get along with a coach they don’t like is a huge life lesson for your child. They should not be taught to run and avoid, but how to sort through the issue in their own minds and confront when appropriate. It’s a skill they will definitely need later in life, but it is not something that is easy to learn. That’s why it’s important for you to help them walk through the process as they grow up.