The Best Way for Sports Parents to Work with Young Coaches

By Janis Meredith | Posted 2/18/2020

When my youngest daughter was playing high school JV basketball, her coach was a 21-year-old college student who was in her first year of coaching. Throughout the season, she had several problems with parents complaining about playing time, and even going so far as to take their frustrations to the athletic director and principal.

My husband and I sensed what was happening and went out of our way to support her and let her know we appreciated all she was doing. The poor girl was beaten up and I felt bad for the way she was treated.

Fast forward 10 years and that same daughter is now coaching U12 club volleyball. She now understands the frustration of her young basketball coach. Even though she’s a bit older, at 26, she still feels the pressure from parents who for some reason feel it’s okay to come down harder on younger coaches than older ones.

Parents, this isn’t how it should be. If your child is being coached by someone in their late teens or 20s, your positive attitude is needed even more than if they were older. The best way for you to support younger coaches is by:

Being patient with them. They are still learning how to coach, how to manage a team and how to work with parents. They will do things you disagree with and they will probably make mistakes. But they are growing as a coach and your patience and understanding will help them continue that process.

Resisting the urge to coach them. Even if you know more than they do or have played the sport for many years, refrain from telling them how to do their job. If they ask for your advice, then it’s okay. But your unsolicited advice is probably not welcome.

Talking about them behind their backs. This is tactless no matter how old the coach is, but it’s really demoralizing to a young coach who is just learning the ropes. If you have an issue that needs a resolution, talk to them directly, instead of taking it to anyone who will listen.

Encouraging them every chance you get. Make a point of saying something positive or thanking them at every game and even at practices. They will hear enough complaining and whining from other parents and your encouragement will be like water to a thirsty soul.

Offering to help them. Ask if there is any way you can support them. Driving, planning meals, making phone calls—these things mean a lot to a coach who is feeling overwhelmed with not only coaching but with all that goes with their job.

Younger coaches don’t need to be treated with kid gloves, but they may need a little extra encouragement. Parents can be brutal, and some can even bully younger coaches. That type of parenting behavior will push many young coaches out of the game. You have an opportunity to impact a grateful young coach’s life by offering your support.

Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at


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