How To Communicate With Your Athletes’ Parents
As a coach, maintaining a positive relationship with your athletes’ parents is crucial.
From figuring out which days your athlete will be gone to addressing concerns, parents can help make or break any decision or plans you have for your team.
Here’s 5 tips to help build a strong foundation between your athletes’ parents and yourself this season.
Knowing your expectations
The number one way to build a strong line of communication with parents is to share your expectations upfront.
Some expectations you should acknowledge early on are:
- When and how parents should contact you
- Your policy concerning grades and missed practices
- Involvement from parents throughout the season
- Practices (what to bring and when to be there)
An ideal time to do this would be at a pre-season team meeting or through an initial welcome email before the season begins.
Let them know you’re approachable
Some parents are afraid to reach out to you because they don’t want to be lumped into the “difficult parent” category.
Remind them about your open door policy and that you’re there to ease any concerns or fears that they have about the season.
One way to ease any concerns is to send an update at the end of each month about their athlete.
Small opportunities like updates via email, makes parents feel like they aren’t a burden and even feel comfortable enough to ask a question that they’ve been keeping to themselves.
Practice and grades equal game time
Although an athlete has made the team, it does not mean that they’ll play each game. The amount of dedication and time toward practices and grades will determine how often and when each player will compete.
If a parent has an issue with their child not competing as often as others on the team, calmly let them know why you made the decision.
Whether it’s due to lack of effort or dedication during practice or bad grades, addressing the concerns right away will help the parents understand without the situation escalating.
To help all the individuals involved (athlete, parent and coach), suggest that the parent help practice moves or plays that their athlete is struggling with or help them study via flash cards or quizzes if grades are what’s keeping them from competing.
Having the parents get involved will not only hold the athlete accountable, but will allow the parents to help solve the issue.
Keeping an open line of communication
Keeping an open line of communication is crucial for the success of not only the athletes, but the team.
Allow parents to contact you if they are concerned with anything pertaining to their child’s role on the team or academically.
By letting parents know what they can and cannot contact you about will prevent non-team related conversations from taking place.
By creating “virtual office hours” for parents to contact you via email, phone or at school, you’re still providing an open door for them to reach out to you while preventing unnecessary conversations from occurring once you take off your “coaching hat” at the end of the day.
24 hour rule
Whether you like it or not you will encounter upset parents throughout the season.
One way to diffuse any negative situation is the 24-hour rule.
This rule will stop parents (and athletes) from contacting you for at least 24 hours to avoid situations from escalating or frustrations.
The rule gives the parent or athlete the opportunity to think through the situation and their emotions so when they talk to you the next day they are thinking with a clear, non-confrontational mindset.
It’s always better to talk in a calm setting versus one filled with tension. If there is a situation that absolutely requires contact (i.e. bullying, health, etc.) allow parents to contact you to address the topic immediately.
Try to include this rule in your initial expectations so parents and athletes are aware of it early in the season.