Resolving Conflicts

  • January 02, 2015

Coach Responses

Although the coach often sets the agenda for a team or athlete, they aren’t the only ones with a say.

As a coach, what has worked for you when resolving conflicts with parents and family?

Share your tips and best practices!

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Coach Chris C. – Basketball/ Volleyball – Burlington – 15 Years

“The best way I solve parent conflicts is to avoid them. By this I mean by setting the expectations very clearly at the beginning of the season. No matter the sport, the usual conflicts involve playing time. At the beginning of the season be very clear about how you will be dividing up playing time and stick to those guidelines. Just because a game is important in the standings does not mean you change your substitution patterns or how you play your players. If you have a plan, communicate that plan, and stick to it you can eliminate a lot (unfortunately not all) of your parent conflicts.

Communication is the key to resolving conflicts properly so that things do not get blown out of proportion. You can use a web site to communicate your goals and expectations so that parents can access them when needed. If you have clear goals communicated then you can refer back to them when a conflict occurs.

Also, remember to take your time responding to a complaint. As coaches, our first reaction is often’ ” how dare they say that, look at the time I put in”. If you take a moment to remove the emotion of the situation and look at the root of the complaint or problem then maybe you can come to some resolution. Finally, build support within the coaching community as it can help, not to solve the conflict, but to lessen the impact it can have on you.

My experience has taught me that if you can demonstrate you have the player’s best interest at heart and not some hidden agenda or your own ego as motivating factors parents will generally recognize this and let you, coach.”

Coach Mike D. – Soccer – Ottawa – 3 Years

“Being open and transparent with regards to my coaching decisions and style is important when it comes to resolving conflicts with parents and family. Then when/if a conflict occurs I have clear facts and reasoning to use when addressing the issue. Sometimes it can be difficult to separate personal problems from conflict, but keeping it about the facts often helps.”

Coach Sean Ferguson ChPC, RGP – Swimming – Region of Waterloo – 17 Years

“Communication, communication, communication; it can’t be stressed enough. Often, whether the conflict is our mistake or not as the coach, we are put into a mediator role and need to have the right tools at our fingertips to deal with situations (good and bad).

One way that I have approached conflict in the past is to:

  1. Listen
  2. Digest the situation
  3. Ask questions to further understand the conflict
  4. Digest again
  5. Propose solutions to the problem & ask the other party/parties involved on their ideas for a solution that benefits all (coach, athlete, parent, club/sport, etc).
  6. Agree on a common ground to move forward
  7. Implement that common ground
  8. Check-in with the other party to make sure everyone is still on the same page going forward
  9. Reflect (make notes, ponder how to avoid/curb this type of conflict, learn/grow from the conflict, etc).”

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