When it comes to confrontation that can lead to violence, the sports field or arena is often a scene of more violence than a professional wrestling ring. The relationship between parents of players and the people who coach them can move from perfectly fine to precarious to dangerous in the blink of an eye. The kid looks up to both the parent and the coach and that can create a ticking time bomb when they see these two supposed role models become antagonists. What often precipitates a confrontation is the lack of a clear understanding between the role of the parent and the role of the coach. Worlds collide, things explode and it is the child who suffers the brunt of the damage. With that in mind, here is some advice for parents on how to approach the tricky situation of confronting a coach.
This should be a no brainer and under normal circumstances it is: don’t confront during play or practice. If you’ve got a problem, keep it for the right time and place when the meeting can be conducted away from the eyes of the kids. When the issue is a long festering one, this can be an easy thing to do. When the issue rises in the heat of the moment…not so much. Just try to always keep at the forefront of your mind that the single worst choice you can make when choosing to confront your child’s coach is to make that decision a rash one that plays out before the kids, the other parents and spectators. This situation never, ever, ever turns out well and should be avoided at all costs.
Approach the coach at the right time and place with an awareness of body language. You don’t want to give away immediately that you are incensed and ready for a fight even if you are. Keep from folding your arms and don’t take an offensive stance. Don’t get all up in the coach’s face and maintain eye contact without glaring or scowling. The coach is already going to be on the defensive because you have the ultimate power over the fate of your kid so don’t make things worse by pushing that defensive stance into an offensive stance that can quickly ignite the tension into a fireball of emotion.
Tone of Voice
The tone you take with a coach can make all the difference in the world. Approach the coach with an appreciation of the free time he gives to your kid and the sport. Let him know that you respect him or her as a sportsperson. Coming at the coach with a voice of superiority or a lack of appreciation for the fact that payment is not involved here at all will only ensure that that particular card gets pulled and played. Of course, when the coach is a member of the school faculty paid well for his time, you can avoid this issue, but then you’ve got to deal with all the myriad complaints of a school coach.
Whatever the issue may be between you and your child’s coach, it is important to understand that every disagreement has two sides. Don’t automatically assume the coach is entirely at fault, especially if the issue is a result of a complaint on the part of the child. Kids lie. Kids stretch the truth. Kids whine. Sometimes they get the facts wrong. Listen to the coach and you may find that the issue really isn’t an issue at all. On the other hand, if there really is a chasm between your perspective and the coach, listening attentively will only help achieve a quick and fair resolution. Turning a blind ear to the coach’s side is a sure way to ensure that the problem has the potential to never be entirely resolve.
Don’t Shy Away From Assertiveness
The coach has his place as a role model, but you are the parent. If you know that you are in the right and you know you are there to protect your child or watch out for his interest, you have every right to assert your position. Even more so, you should stick up for yourself and not back down. Don’t be cowed by a coach who is overly aggressive or unwilling to acquiesce even when proven wrong. These types of coaches are plentiful and they are used to kids being easily intimidated. You are the parent. You don’t have to be intimidated. Stand up for your kid no matter what.