Building & Maintaining Effective Coach-Parent Relationships
From setting team goals to conducting practices to providing player feedback, coaches have a lot of responsibilities on their plates to juggle. When you add in the element of building and maintaining coach-parent relationships, coaches can quickly feel buried under a pile of never-ending work and become overwhelmed.
The purpose of coach-parent relationships is to provide parents with consistent and detailed feedback on how their child is performing. Without proper feedback, parents aren’t in the know of what skills their child can improve upon, or better yet, what areas their child excels in (and can keep working towards mastering). In addition to feedback, parents will also have frequent questions about the practice schedule, upcoming tournaments, or equipment to buy.
While parents deserve to be seen, valued, and respected, coaches have the right to a stress-free and pleasant experience when interacting with parents. To help manage parent expectations and create a clear path of communication between both parties, we provide some tips on how to build and maintain coach-parent relationships.
1. Communicate Clearly With Parents
Make it a habit to communicate important information to parents prior to a tryout, practice, tournament, or evaluation. The shared information might be as simple as providing a schedule breakdown, a reminder about tryout fees, or the details about the venue for an upcoming tournament. Essentially, any information that will eliminate confusion should be shared.
The best method of communication to send these frequent updates and reminders is through email. Templates can be created ahead of time. I.e., If you are routinely sending emails about updated practice schedules, a template can be created in which the date and time of the new practice can quickly be added in. Emails also allow for easy referencing, in which you can track all emails that have been sent out to avoid the excuse, “Oh, I never got it!” by a parent.
2. Manage Parent Expectations
24/7 communication, undivided player attention, and guaranteed skill development are a few unrealistic expectations parents might have. At the beginning of each season, ensure parents have a clear understanding of what to expect. For example, this could be in the form of an email stating what you will be responsible for. Key focuses might include:
- Monitor athlete performance to understand player strengths and improvements.
- Explain, demonstrate, and correct errors for relevant skills
- Provide verbal encouragement when deemed necessary.
- Create a welcoming environment open to player feedback and communication.
- Treat all players equally and avoid any acts of favouritism.
3. Ensure Evaluators Are Unbiased
When players are being evaluated at a tryout, parents want to ensure their child has a fair shot at making the team based on their skill level. When biased evaluators are added to the panel, such as a player’s relative or family friend, your sports organization will lose credibility very quickly.
As a solution, third-party organizations can be hired to complete the evaluations (if you require multiple evaluators at your next tryout and there aren’t enough coaches available). Parents will be a lot less likely to question the evaluation results when they know the scores submitted each came from an unbiased evaluator.
4. Create a List of Non-negotiable Behaviors
Using foul language, harassing other players, and bullying coaches creates a hostile environment when in fact, each practice or tournament should be filled with encouragement and cheerfulness.
Politely communicate with parents that any bad behavior at sporting events isn’t tolerated. Also, notify parents that if they are contributing in any way toward a harmful and abusive environment, they will immediately be removed from the vicinity and get blacklisted from attending all future games.
5. Educate Parents on Player Performance
All too often, parents leave an evaluation or tryout with no information on why their child didn’t make the team or get selected for the position of their choice. Parents are then left to wonder what criteria were used to evaluate their child and how the selection process was conducted.
A good evaluation process should have tangible results that can be shared with both athletes and their parents. This information should showcase what went well at an evaluation and also what needs to be worked on. These documents should also be presented in a professional yet easy-to-read format, ideally a digital report. Hand-scratched notes will not allow you to make a valid explanation about team placements or skills that need to be worked on throughout the season.
SkillShark offers an affordable solution allowing any coach to provide comprehensive and timely athlete reports to parents. Through SkillShark, coaches can either choose from a pre-filled evaluation template or create their own. After the athletes have been evaluated at tryouts, scores are automatically generated into individual reports that can be emailed right away. When sent a digital report, parents can see how their child ranks on a specific skill and how their child fares in comparison to the team average for that skill.
Ultimately, parents want to know that their athletes are given a fair shot to make a particular team. With advanced communication, unbiased evaluators, and professional feedback, healthy parent-coach relationships can be formed!