As a youth coach your biggest obstacle and your greatest asset are the parents of your players. This paradox causes more grief than any other phase of the game for coaches, umpires, and league officials. Parents are GREAT, and can provide an important resource, support, and ancillary coach(at times). However, they can also create dissension, pressure, and chaos!! A coach must learn to deal with each and every parent in a respectful and positive manner. It is the most difficult task a coach will face. The issues of playing time, positions, practice schedule, personal “needs”, etc will take more time and effort than teaching any skill set necessary to play the game…including hitting!!
A youth coach must develop a viable strategy in order to deal with these problems on a group and individual basis. It is highly recommended to have a parent meeting prior to the first practice and to clearly outline your teaching and coaching philosophy. Review team rules, playing time parameters, practice schedule, needs from the parents, and any other items that will facilitate clear communication with all the parents. A good idea is to have a Code of Conduct that relates to parent and player behavior and explains proper team and game behavior. You are the coach and must be the leader of the team. You will have problems and the optimal strategy is to prepare for the worst and deal with each player/parent in a fair and expedient fashion.
Below are listed the “types” of parents you will meet and in many cases have to deal with during the season. If you do not have one of these types, you are the luckiest coach in the world..bar none! Good Luck!!!
- Achievement Proxy Syndrome: These are the parents that live through their player and hope that the player will “erase” all their bad memories and “heal” their childhood wounds. He/she will not!
- Helicopter Parent: “Hovers” all around and circling to make sure you do not mess up and their player gets the proper attention, etc.
- The “Stop and Drop” Parent: They will just drop off their player and expect you to have them ready when they return. sitter. They will come late and leave early; it is all about them! Can also be called the “Come Late and Leave Early” parents.
- The “Tea cuppers”: Their player is very delicate and will crack or break if there is too much pressure or they do not get their way. Be gentle!
- The “Show caser”: Your job is to “showcase” their player without attention to others. They are the stars and you are the “agent” to success.
- The “Obsessors”: They worry and provide every possible excuse for their player and his/her play and behavior. They will provide a list of all that you must do, maladies, and of course, “useful advice”.
- The “Bubble Wrappers”: Their player is bubble-wrapped and ready to burst. Don’t be the one to provide the impetus!
- The “Snowflakers”: Their player is as precious as a snowflake and just as special. They worry about he/she “melting” or not being treated delicately.
- The INSURGENTS: These are the parents who will “blow up” your team and program if for no other reason other than they are unhappy, hate the game, and are just doing it because they think they should. Volatile!
- The “Two Facers”: Just as in the “real” world, the hypocrites present a barrier to team work and fun. They will tell you one thing, and you know the rest!
- The “Crispies”: These are the youngsters that are so burned out they crumble like a cookie. Over-booked and over-coached and over-controlled; they will have a very difficult time as they have NO time to think or enjoy the game.
- The “It’s About Us” parents: Everything is for them! Your team and program must fit into their schedule and they will not change. These are very tough as your obligation is to the team not parents or individual players.
- The “Light Bulbers”: They GET IT!!! Hope you have a few of these…they see the light and will help the team and ALL the players!!
- The “Enablers”: These will do everything for their player. You will know that player as he/she will have the best of all gear/equipment!
- The “Tug-O-Wars”: The divorced ones that “pull” at the player and blame the other for the player’s mistakes/errors. Always last to pick up the player!
- The “Guard Dogs”: They grrrr every time you try to teach their kids!
- The “PR parents”: Like admen, they are constantly telling you what the player can do, rather than just letting him/her play.
- The “Snow Plowers”: They remove all the problems for the child and make it too easy.
- The “Bull Dozers”: Over involved parents that force everything and can not leave the teacher/coach alone.
- The Pinterests: Everything must be perfect and obsess over details. Miss the big picture.
There are several other types of parents lurking about, but in general most are concerned about their youngster learning the game, having fun in a safe environment, and learning “life lessons”. It is imperative to treat everyone on an individual basis and attempt to create a functional T-E-A-M!!!!. Good Luck
D.H. Lawrence espoused his recipe for parental success. Three rules: 1. Leave him alone 2. Leave him alone 3. Leave him alone. Do this and he will learn! This is a bit harsh but parents need to allow their player to learn the game and have fun. They have lived their childhood, and now it is their kids’ turn. Less is more, and failure to get a hit or to throw the ball straight may teach as much as the winning hit! To over parent or under parent…that is the question!
“Baseball may not change the world, BUT it may change a youngster’s life!”