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How to Communicate With a Coach Without Overstepping

August 26th, 2015     By Kevin Kush, Boys Town Football Coach and Teacher

Respect, School, Youth Sports

If you have a son or daughter participating in youth sports, sooner or later you’re probably going to want to talk to a coach about something – likely an issue on which you and the coach disagree.

More often than not, the issue is playing time – as in, “Coach Kush, my son sat on the bench for most of last Friday’s game. He’s much better than the other kid; why don’t you let him play more?” But sometimes you get parents who see themselves as coaches in their own right and have problems with a particular play call – as in, “Coach Kush, why didn’t you go for two points after that last touchdown instead of sending the game into overtime?”

Well, whether you have a problem with playing time or play calling… or anything else your kid’s coach is doing, there are a few ways to make your point without overstepping your bounds.

• Speak to your coach in a cooperative, respectful manner.

As a parent, you’re emotionally invested in your kid’s wellbeing. But instead of letting emotions control the discussion, you stand a much better chance of achieving your goals if you approach your conversation in a dispassionate and courteous way.

• Avoid talking to the coach right after a game.

Emotions run high immediately after competition for everyone – players, parents and, yes, coaches. Because of this, it makes much more sense to discuss issues, whether they are time or strategy related, a day or two after the game or competition.

• Remain calm and use an appropriate tone of voice.

If you’re accusative or angry when talking to a coach, he or she is much more likely to dismiss your concern than if you speak to him or her in a calm, respectful manner.

• Try to keep an open mind.

Instead of going into the conversation convinced that you are right and the coach is wrong, state your concerns and the reasons behind them… but let the coach explain his or her reasons for a particular decision. You might find that your child was playing less because he or she had a potential injury that the coach was trying not to aggravate. Or you might find that the coach went for the point-after kick instead of going for two because he knew that the opposing team’s goal-line defense was exceptionally strong and that a two-point conversion had a high likelihood of failing.

Regardless of the issue at hand, it all comes down to civility and respect. So when you’re talking to a coach, speak to them as if they were a friend or colleague. After all, like you, we have a job to do – one that brings with it high pressure and great expectations. And, guess what, we’re human and we do sometimes make mistakes. But like most humans, we respond much better when we’re addressed in a civil and respectful manner.

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