Parents must treat their youth sports coaches with respect

By Peter Schwartz | Posted 6/7/2016

It takes a special type of person to be a youth football coach – or a coach in any youth sport.

There are no multi-year contracts that pay millions of dollars. There’s no coach’s show on television or radio to provide a supplemental salary.

The job is 100 percent voluntary and still each fall, tens of thousands of men and women do it for the love of the game. Just for that reason alone, any coach who takes this job should be given a big pat on the back.

It’s a job that requires patience and passion with the primary objective making sure that all of the children leave the field at the end of the season better players than when they stepped on the field at the start. Wins and losses aside, coaches can call it a successful season if each child can say he or she had fun, and all of the players sign up again the next year.

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With that said, the efforts of youth sports coaches can sometimes be taken for granted by parents. I thought about this the other day when I came across a photo of a coach and player on Facebook with the following message.

“Too often, coaches hear only from parents who have complaints. Providing truthful, specific praise positively reinforces the job coaches are doing. A simple thank you for the time they put in can go a long way.”

Truer words have never been written.

Taking this from a youth football perspective, it’s extremely important for parents to treat coaches with the utmost respect. They are the ones who have made the commitment to teach the kids the fundamentals of the game and to prepare them for the games each week.

The kids aren’t the only ones who need to hear that they’re doing a good job from time to time. It’s important that the parents do the same thing for the coaches and here’s how.

  • Say thank you. I’ve always made a point to thank each coach after every practice and game. It doesn’t take long to go up to them and take a moment to show your appreciation.
  • Cheer on the coach. If a child makes a good play in practice or during a game, they deserve some nice words from the parents. But let’s say a child has been having a hard time with a specific play and finally executes it. The child deserves a praise, but how about a little, “Hey, that was good coaching,” too.
  • Collection time. It’s always a nice gesture when the parents take up a collection near the end of the season to get some small gifts for the coaches as tokens of appreciation for all of their hard work. It can be a simple as a gift card or as symbolic as a ball signed by the players.

As long as the coaches are treating the kids fairly and not putting them in harm’s way, there’s little reason to scream at coaches during games, constantly complain about things or bad mouth them to other parents. Keep in mind that they are the ones who have stepped up to take on the responsibility.

If you don’t like the job that your child’s coach is doing, you have a few choices.

  • Talk to the coach in private. There’s no reason to make a spectacle of yourself at a game or practice. If something is bothering you, ask the coach for a few minutes to chat. Taking that approach could certainly save some embarrassment and it also might solve whatever issue there might be.
  • Keep it to yourself. If you aren’t comfortable speaking to any of the coaches, then just let it go. If you don’t think you can talk to a coach, then the issue is probably silly to begin with. A coach should be approachable when it comes to playing time, discipline or something like that, but if you’re going to ask about something that is not a big deal, then just leave it alone.
  • Think of the kids. A few years ago, a parent on my son Bradley’s team wasn’t happy that his kid was being shuffled in and out of the game. The parent was actually on the chain gang and started screaming at the coaches after his kid started crying and then the grandfather started yelling from the bleachers. It was very uncomfortable. Don’t embarrass your child or any of the kids on the team. That only makes things worse.
  • Step up. If you don’t like how a youth coach is doing things, take the time to volunteer yourself next time.

During the seven years of being involved in youth sports, I appreciate the effort of what it takes to be a coach. As someone who can relate to being both a coach and a parent, it’s important to understand just how much time and energy goes into the job. That commitment deserves a verbal pat on the back once in a while that everyone on the field can hear.

Peter Schwartz is an anchor and reporter for the CBS Sports Radio Network. He also writes a CBS New York sports blog at You can follow him on Twitter @pschwartzcbsfan. Peter’s son Bradley plays for the Levittown Red Devils of the Nassau Suffolk Football League on Long Island in New York. His son Jared cheers on Bradley and then Bradley returns the favor when Jared is playing soccer.