Engage, Don’t “Deal” With Parents: Building a Positive Parent Culture

  • April 28, 2020

Why are sporting parents often a source of frustration for coaches and athletes when they could be (and should be) a key factor in the sporting success of their children? How can we get parents more actively and positively engaged in their child’s success?

Join Glen Mulcahy as he leads you through this interactive webinar, which will leave you feeling confident about your role interacting with parents, new relationship building and communication strategies that will surely elevate your abilities to engage with parents, instead of dealing with them.

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Coach Responses

What pointers would you give to new coaches who are looking to build a better relationship with parents on their team?

Share your tips and best practices!

Cassie Hawrysh – Volleyball – London – 5 Years

“Open Communication is key. They are ON YOUR SIDE – not against you. They want what’s best for their child – and that ISN’T WINNING – it’s fun! So, make it fun for their kids and parents!!”

Patrick Champagne – Muli-Sport – Gatineau – 8 Years

“Engage with parents right at the start of the season and, if possible, meet with them in the person or on a video conference call. Sharing your coaching philosophy and expectations from parents, athletes and yourself as the coach will enable the trust to grow and active communication becomes much easier between the coach and the parents.”

Shankar Premakanthan – Field Hockey – Toronto – 13 Years

“I think it cannot be overstated the importance of being engaged with your parents. Being upfront, making expectations known and sharing your philosophy. All this helps in getting parent buy-in & support. I like the points that were brought forward for the parent meeting, and being proactive, instead of reactive.”

Nancy Olmsted – Canoe/Kayak – Aurora – 15 Years

“Good listening skills. 2. Set goals/philosophy so parents understand. 3. Athletes development as a person to play as part of an organization. 4. Ensure athletes have fun and provide a positive environment for development of athlete as a person.”

Beth McClelland – Figure Skating – Uxbridge – 20 Years

“I would encourage new coaches to keep parents informed, engage with them, listen & respect them…include them with volunteer opportunities.”

Carvo Grant – Table Tennis – Toronto – 30+ Years

“Get them involved and provide useful info to them so that they feel as if they are part of the team”

Jackie Bellamy-Zions – Equestrian – Guelph – 25+ Years

“Be clear about your program and philosophy, making sure it is a good fit with the student, then show the parents how they can have positive impact”

Kathy Crawford – Curling/Gymnastics – London – 20 Years

“Let them know that you are always available for a specific amount of time (like 5 mins) after each practice to chat. Always follow through on what you say you are going to do. If you don’t get something done, let them know the “why” as to why it didn’t get done. Always acknowledge them at the beginning and end of the training. Is doesn’t have to be a long chat but a head nod, or a wave is good too. Let them know that they are just as important to you as their child/athlete. It’s also nice that not every conversation is about the sport. If you know someone is ill in the family, why not ask how things are going. You want to know about the family dynamics without being nosey…you are showing that you care about them too.”

Ryan Essex – Hockey – Aurora – 16 Years

“Be a good listener and be intentional with your messaging to them on your philosophy”

Claude Ferland – Volleyball – Ottawa – 9 Years

“Proactive communication including a well-structured parent meeting and a dedicated budget meeting at the start of the season. Engage with your parents regularly (after practice, at competitions, on the road) and ask about their sport experience as parents, show interest in their children (ask questions about general health, interests, school, siblings, etc)”

Brian Lindsay – Swimming – Milton – 48 Years

“Letting parents know that you have an open-door policy. Do not shy away from meeting with them. Have agenda prepared in advance and stay on topic.”

Neil Huab – Badminton – Mississauga – 34 Years

“Conduct a good first day meeting making all rules and expectations clear.”

Susannah Moylan – Curling – Ajax – 25+ Years

“Communication…understand their goals for their kids and help them understand your philosophy. Get them to help and be part of the process.”

Patricia Wright – Bowling – 5 Pin – Chatham – 10 Years

“Be honest, be open. Be willing to work with them. If the parent is enthusiastic then offer them a volunteer position on the team.”

Murray Armstrong – Soccer – Kitchener – 12 Years

“Meet with all the parents as a group at the beginning of the season, middle and at the end. Clearly define your coaching philosophies including how you will manage playing time. Then stick to that philosophy.”

Brenda Robson – Equestrian – Lowbanks – 28 Years

“Clearly define what you offer and the direction they can count on you taking whether it will be recreational or competitive. Also, be clear and upfront about at what point the number of lessons must increase to reach expected outcomes and finally be clear as to when they should expect to invest in a lease horse or purchase if they ate competition minded. The lesson pathways are the same but the focus, frequency and costs are different. Parents like to know the choices and to have a bit of inclusion besides their pocketbook and drive.
Also, how do we expect them to engage in the process they choose – participation & support. It takes a village for them to get to the goals.

Finally, record-keeping on progress, celebrate milestones and maintain regular communications all help before a fire gets out of control because you can bet that things are being weighed, compared and considered at home and if confronted by a frustrated parent its great to be prepared. This will keep you from getting caught up in their emotion and instead, you can hear & validate concerns and then lead them to your peaceful resolution without compromising your standards, your integrity and your program. Tough but worth it.”

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