Handling Criticism

How do you handle criticism from parents?

It is inevitable that if you coach long enough you will face criticism from parents. Heck, you might face criticism in your first year. It seems many parents believe they could do a much better job than most coaches, even though they may have never played the game. The key to handling criticism from parents is to realize they want the best for their child. That leads me to the first thing you have to do; communicate.

I recently completed my seventh year as a high school baseball coach, the sixth as a head coach and my 25th overall. I've also coached high school football and middle school basketball. Last year was by far the worst season I have ever had regarding parent feedback and criticism. It was my first year running a program in a new state, and I was very close to one and done. At first, I was angry and not sure I even wanted to come back. But I listened to the criticism and realized that much of their complaints were due to my communication, or lack thereof. The bottom line was they did not know me.

The second thing you need to do when you’re criticized is to hear the criticism from their perspective. Ask yourself honestly, if you could have done something differently that would have prevented it. If you can be objective in your processing of the criticism, you will come out a better coach.

The last thing to do, is to let a little time pass, so that your emotions subside and talk with your critics. This will likely be the hardest thing to do. If you’re a youth coach, you likely won’t coach the same kids from year to year. At the high school level and above you will get a new crop of kids every year. If you have the same kids returning, talk to the parents who had an issue with you after the season has ended and time has passed. It could be as little as a week or as much as a few months. You will be surprised how time takes the sting out of their criticism.

I am going to make the assumption you are a good coach for the most part and that you are not constantly yelling at the kids, and you coach with a positive attitude.

You will always have critics and people who don’t like the way you may do this or that. However, if you communicate your expectations at the beginning of the season and you’re clear that you share their goals of wanting the best for their child, you should be okay.

Best of luck coaching and remember criticism can help you grow and become a better coach if you approach it with the right perspective. I know it has helped me grow as a coach and in the long run that is where the value of criticism lies.

Coach Green


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