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Five Basketball Coaching Tips To Avoid Parental Conflict
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Five Basketball Coaching Tips to Avoid Parental Conflict

We typically think of basketball coaching as one dimensional (just with basketball players). However; basketball coaching is multifaceted and one of the more interesting aspects is our ability to manage the relationships with the parents of the players that we coach particularly from th elementary to high school level. It is, also, important as we strive to develop trust and confidence that we create a healthy environment that both the players and parents respect and believe in. It is, also, important that you as the coach exhibit leadership qualities that both players and parents are on-board with from day one.

The environment or framework that we establish must be tempered in part by your individual situation. For instance, if you are coaching a recreational league basketball team and one of the principles is that all players will have an opportunity to participate equally, then parents need to understand this upfront and agree to this principle or find another team or league that will meet their needs. Or, if you coach a competitive highly skilled basketball team, parents should be advised that the players will earn their spots based on practice efforts, attitude, and game performance. In this situation your son or daughter may not play a majority of the minutes but provide contributing minutes to support the goals and objectives of the team.

How do we avoid conflict with parents?

Here are five basketball coaching tips to avoid parental conflict.

Have a parent meeting before the seasons starts. This is a great opportunity to introduce yourself, share information about your coaching history or experience, provide an overview of player expectations, get to know the parents, and outline the practice schedule. Here a few ideas to consider:

1. Parent expectations. Parents need to understand their responsibility to get their child to practice on time and that the players have the appropriate attire and proper shoes for practice. Parents should be advised of the importance of attending games and supporting the team and their child by praising their hard work and game efforts.

2. Review your guidelines for playing time. Minutes for playing time should be consistent with your game, situational, and basketball philosophy. If equal playing time is the criterion, then you must adhere to this or if it is based on some other criteria, like attendance at practices, work ethic, or skill level, then you must advise the parents to avoid future issues.

3. Discuss your rules and expectations. What are your rules about players missing practice and what is the process for communicating absences? Are players required to discuss issues with you before addressing their parents? Do you want parents to talk with you before or after games?

4. Outline game day guidelines. Encourage positive cheering, no yelling at the refs, or criticizing the coaches. Discourage "sideline coaching" because it only confuses the player. I had an incident during a tournament game, when a parent would come out of the stands, approach the bench and criticize her child's efforts. In this situation I pulled the parent aside and requested the parent remain in the stands during game time to avoid further embarrassing her child. Fortunately, this situation did not escalate further and I was able to maintain control of the game situation.

5. Review your team goals, priorities, and philosophy. If your goals are to emphasize basketball and personal development then tell your parents. Explain the emphasis on fundamentals that are designed to help them in the long run and that you are teaching the concept of team-work, honesty, and work ethic all of which will have application throughout their lives.

Basketball coaching requires the subtlety of a diplomat and the firmness of a concerned parent. These basketball tips to avoid conflict are really common sense approaches to sustaining relationships. And while you may not remember these coaching tips, take a deep breath and project how you would like to be treated if you were the parent. Remember, we are all parents, in fact or in loco parentis, and we just want the best for our children.


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