In the first three articles in this series, I discussed legitimate expectations that parents can have around their children’s sports and activities, and I presented the first two steps to addressing concerns. Step one was to focus on what your child wants, and step two was to examine whether or not your child was having fun and learning skills.
In this article, I present the final step that parents need to consider when things are not totally right with your child’s sport experience.
On that note, minor sports organizations’ values and ways of functioning are an outcome of the volunteers that lead them. In other words, no two associations are exactly the same. Some are very open to input and feedback from parents, others are not.
As well, coach education varies greatly across sports and areas. Any good coaching development program contains some elements on how to handle meetings with parents in a professional manner, but again the application will vary greatly.
Fourth in the ‘Parent expectations in soccer’ series
This four-part series details what parents can do to ensure that their kids are having a good experience in soccer.
If you’ve made sure that you’re honoring what your child wants from their sport, but you are not satisfied that they are having fun and learning skills, and you believe that the situation could be improved for your kid’s team, then you need to consider talking with the coaches.
Depending on how approachable or accessible your child’s coaches and sport association have made themselves, it may be intimidating to bring up your concerns. To reduce possible tension and to ensure you are respectful in your approach, follow these suggestions:
- Know and follow the process in place in your minor sport organization. These are often located on the association’s website. If you are not sure, ask the team’s manager or a board member of your minor sport association.
- Always ask for a formal meeting instead of approaching the coach after a game or a practice. Coaching needs a great level of presence and engagement. A coach walking off the field after a practice or a game might seem ready for a discussion, but trust my experience: they probably have a lot on their mind.
- At the beginning of your meeting, state that your purpose is to get kids to have more fun and improve their skills simply because those are the reasons kids play sports. It might help if you shared some links to articles or websites on the topic.
- Share your observations, give examples, and ask questions in an open-minded fashion. Remember that your purpose is to help everyone (kids, parents, and coaches) live a better and more rewarding experience.
- Share suggestions and some solutions if you have any.
- Give the coaches time to reflect on the discussion, but make it clear that you want a response to your concerns.
In conclusion, when kids choose to play a competitive sport, it’s because of their enjoyment of the many aspects of the game itself. As a parent, you are within your rights to ensure that your child has fun and develops the right skills.