The parent-coach relationship is crucial for your athlete's on the field success. Work hard to make it a positive one!

Softball Smarts Tips #142: Parent vs. Coach...More Tips


In a perfect world parents and their athlete's coach(es) get along perfectly. They see eye to eye on how the team is run, agree on game strategies and player roles (particularly a parent's own daughter's role). It's one big happy family!

Now...back to the real world!

Tip #1: Does your daughter's coach have a kid on the team?

If he or she does I believe you have the right and, in fact, the obligation to monitor the coach's use of his or her daughter (particularly if the coach's daughter is the "star" pitcher). Favoritism of daughter and daughter's friends has no place in youth sports and any coach should be held accountable for such.

If the coach does not have a kid on the team you still have every right to question how your daughter is being utilized, however the motives of a non-player parent as coach are different. As a parent coach may have a hard time separating his or her emotions as parent from those as a coach, whereas the non-parent coach should be able to maintain his or her objectivity before, during and after the game.

Tip #2: Is your daughter's coach approachable for a "reasonable" conversation about the team and your athlete's role on it?

Many times I hear horror stories about coaches being unwilling to speak to parents EVER about the team or players. As a coach I get that being challenged on coaching decisions can cause A defensive reaction. However, particularly in a "pay to play" travel dynamic, the parents are the customers and have every right to a few minutes of the coach's time when appropriate (NOT DURING THE GAME!). Approach your daughter's coach in person, by email or phone in a respectful and even tempered way and the coach should be open to a discussion.

Tip #3: Reality check: how good is your daughter...really?

Often parents have excessive perceptions of just how good their athlete is. Subjectivity is a part of parenthood I know, but objectivity for your daughter's talent level will go a long ways towards having a better relationship with coaches and fellow team parents.

Tip #4: Do you trust your daughter's coach?

This is a vitally important question. If you don't trust your athlete's coach's knowledge of the game, coaching philosophy, demeanor, and caring for his players then why is your daughter on the team? I would suggest you employ a litmus test of acceptability (talent, attitude, effectiveness) for your coach and then sit back and relax. Until proven otherwise give your daughter's coach the benefit of the doubt and employ a little trust.

Tip #5: Be a "big picture" thinker

As a coach myself I know that I always approach a new team or new season as a process. With proper coaching and effort by the athletes any player and team should show gradual improvement each week and month as the season progresses. Allow your daughter's coach and his or her staff to work their magic. Give them some time. My teams show remarkable improvement over a 3 or 6 month period, so don't be too quick to lower the boom on the coach after a few weeks. If, however, your athlete or her team are not showing noticeable improvement over time you should question your coach and whether your daughter is on the right team.

The bottom line is that coaches work extremely hard for little or no compensation, so please respect your daughter's coaches and give them every benefit of the doubt until such time you believe you have cause for concern or change.

As always, remember...thoughts are things so choose them wisely!


John Kelly

John Kelly with prized pupil Alison with her 2012 ASA 14u Western National Championship trophy.

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