Communicating with the coach

Communicating with a Youth Sports Coach

As a parent of a young athlete you will have to communicate with your child’s coach! It is entirely up to you if this will be a positive event or a negative event and affect your child’s sports experience.

Prior to having a conversation with your child’s coach you might save yourself a fair amount of time and energy by having a conversation with your child first. Ask your child how they feel about their role on the team without interrupting and influencing their thoughts with your feelings on the subject. Be a good listener and show your child you care about their feelings and that they own the experience, not you.

If your child shares your feelings then have your child talk with their coach first. This will teach them how to communicate with people in positions of authority. Have your child ask the coach for an opportunity to play a particular position. The coach may have a very good reason for having your child play a particular spot which is for the best of the team. You and your child need to try to accept whatever answer the coach comes back with. Most good coaches will respect the child who comes to him and respectfully asks for an opportunity to do something different. Good coaches will also give your child a chance in practice first, to see if your child can play the position without risk of injury to themselves or others.

If you still are not satisfied and your child feels he is not being treated fairly, then you should have a conversation with the coach. Realize however, that usually a season is only a few months long and your child may never play for this coach again, so if it isn't resolved to your liking after having a conversation with the coach, just chalk it up as a learning experience and let the season play itself out while supporting your child AND the coach to the best of your ability. Making bad comments about a coach in front of your child will only make the season worse.


As a parent it is important to realize that your child’s coach has many kids that he is responsible for, not just your child. Almost every youth coach will be either harder or easier on their own child. They may even put their child in preferential positions, this may not be right, but it happens and I call this the coach's prerogative. It is usually much harder to be a coaches child, so give the coach a little leeway. Most youth coaches are volunteers who have stepped up to put in countless hours on the behalf of your child. PLEASE keep this in consideration.

If you feel your child is better suited for a different position, or you would just like to discuss the coaching style or philosophy with your child’s coach you need to do three things in THIS order:

1) Ask the coach for a time to talk either after practice, or on a day without an event. This can be either on the phone or in person.

2) Be calm and in complete control of your emotions. If you are upset about the outcome of a game, or your child's playing time this conversation will not be productive! Please observe a 24 hour cooling off period from the time of the event regardless of your emotional state.

3) Have a clear goal in mind when you do talk with the coach.

Now let's break each of these three things down so you understand the coaches perspective and to help you achieve your goal.

First, a coach has a lot on his mind prior to a game so talking before an event will not be the most productive. Talking to a coach after a good game might work, but you will need to do this in private without other parents AND more importantly, YOUR CHILD around.

Second, if you are emotional about the outcome or the way your child has been treated confronting a coach immediately after could have disastrous results. I highly recommend a 24 hour cooling off period and then a calm conversation with your child BEFORE talking with the coach. Your child may not share your views and if that is the case you must respect your child’s position on this. It is their experience, not yours. If they are okay with the coach or the position they are playing, you can be assured they are getting the value from the endeavor.

Last, have a clear goal of giving your child an opportunity. If you make demands or threats of leaving to the coach, you will not be happy with the results and possibly impact your child. Most coaches are open and easy to communicate with if done in this sequence.

I've coached youth sports for 20 years as well as being a parent with my child coached by others. I've been approached by parents in a variety of emotional states. The most productive conversations I've had as a coach and as a parent have always been within these guidelines. DON'T LEARN THE HARD WAY! Please follow these guidelines and I assure you it will be productive.

If you have any questions or issues with a coach that we haven't addressed on our website, please feel free to contact me. I am always willing to help a parent or coach out to make the experience better for the young athlete.

Here I am communicating with officials prior to a youth football game. As a coach, I treat officials how I would like to be treated by parents; with Respect, Consideration and Kindness. Those traits will go much further in your communication than anger, resentment and animosity.



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