Coach’s Guide in Dealing with Parents in Youth Basketball Teams

The reason why most coaches in youth sports, including basketball, haven’t been compiled, but this potential reason might answer this question – at least 75% of coaches believe that parents are placing too much importance on winning games. Bossy, stage parents, can suck the fun out of coaching and sports in general. It will drive even the most patient coaches crazy.

Most parents of kids participating in the country’s best basketball camp and leagues are very supportive, reasonable and appreciative of the coach’s efforts. There are still parents that can make coaches lose their minds, but with a cool head and right attitude, dealing with them is possible. Here are some tips on how to deal with difficult parents.

Talk to them from the get-go

As soon as you get the player’s list, you need to contact their parents and start communicating with them. Tell the parents about yourself, explain your strategies and basketball philosophy. Tell them your coaching history, and how you will handle your player’s playing time. In most youth basketball teams, playing time is sometimes set by the league. Some leagues require each player in the team to play at least one quarter per game.

You need to tell them your expectations for your players (their kids) as well as your expectations for the parents. You have to let them understand that your goal is to improve your player’s skills, teach them about teamwork and of course, make their kids have fun. You also need to answer the parents’ questions and start a good dialogue with them.

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Ask parents for help

One of the best ways to deflect difficult parents and their complaints is to ask them for help. You can ask them to be your assistant coach (if you see something special), or just an extra pair of hand in practice. Not every parent is cut out for this kind of activity. Most of them don’t mind screaming at the players (those are the parents who are not cut out to be a coach). But for parents who always complain and ask questions, you need to let them feel the challenges you are facing as a coach. Using this strategy, you make an ally out of them instead of enemies.

Keep Your Cool

Emotions are always high in every sports competition, including youth basketball. Even the most cool-headed professional coaches can crack to pressure and raise their voices at their players and referees. If parents start to yell or disagree as you, resisting to fight back is not that easy. The best thing to do is to avoid escalating the argument.

You need to take a deep breath and listen to what the parents are saying to you, and respond to them as calmly as possible. If talking to them calmly is not possible, tell them that you will be glad to discuss the matter at a proper time and in a proper venue. Most of the time, parents are only angry during games, if you let it pass and talk to them the next day, where everyone is calm, you will realize that it is better that way. If the parents are still angry, ask the help of league administrator if you need a mediator.

And lastly, don’t argue with them over the phone, email or, text messages. Communicating using those platforms is sometimes outright stupid because it can cause miscommunication and possibly heated argument. Talking to them face-to-face, to discuss the problems is the most rational way to solve any issues or disputes. ( Click here to know how to properly communicate when angry.)

Suggest an alternative

One of the most significant disagreements among coaches and parents is the playing time with their kids or how they are used in the game. Most of the time, these parents believe that coaches are holding the progress of their kids. The problem with this kind of mindset – recreational youth basketball leagues are meant to be fun for the kids and not competitive.

It is intended to improve the kid’s skills and mindset so that when they reach high school or college basketball, they are physically and mentally prepared. Parents have always doubted every coach’s ability to train their children, and they think there’s someone out there that is much better at coaching their kid than you.

If they continue to argue with you about playing time, suggest to them that it might be better if they put their kids in a competitive, club or AAU team if you think the kids are ready for the next step. It could remind parents that recreational team is all about teamwork, not just about their kids.