As a youth sports coach, those 12 or so kids are under your watch and your protection during the game/practice, and you are ultimately responsible for what happens to your athletes. And while even the best coaches can’t control every single little thing, there are some behaviors that you can’t let slip by.
Aggressive parents (aka the “sideline coach”)
Most coaches would rather have involved and invested parents on the sideline, cheering their kids (and the whole team!) on, helping pick up after practice, arranging carpool rides and so forth, compared to a bunch of parents that can’t seem to be bothered. After all, it takes a village to run a youth sports team! And while a coach shouldn’t be worrying about parenting the parents, they’ve got plenty on their plate, sometimes you have to put your foot down and wrangle overly aggressive sports parents back in line.
If you have a parent that is screaming at their kid, picking on another player for their mistakes, getting into fights with other parents or the officials, undermining your authority and so forth than you need to do something about it. As the coach, you are responsible for what happens on that field and an aggressive (or even violent) parent is not the kind of role model your players need to have around. If a parent is getting out of hand it’s your responsibility as the coach to get them to stop, or even have them removed them from the field.
Many coaches have their parents sign a “Code of Conduct” contract at the beginning of the season, outlining what kinds of behaviors are and are not acceptable. That contract makes it much easier to enforce your rules because expectations were laid out upfront. If a parent breaks the rules they have to suffer the consequences, no exceptions.
Bullying amongst teammates.
Using “kids will be kids” as an excuse to turn a blind eye to bullying leaves a lot of athletes at the mercy of their teammates. And while it’s important that children learn how to settle disputes or disagreements amongst themselves, there comes a point where as the adult in charge you have the obligation to step in and protect the athlete being bullied. A 2008 report found that 47% of students experience some form of hazing before graduating high school and 74% of college students on a varsity athletic team report going through hazing. And while we can hope that it’s nothing much worse than good natured teasing between teammates, far too many stories of bullying include violence and degradation amongst players. For instance, 3 Bronx Science track runners were charged with forcible touching, endangering an incompetent person, and hazing.
If your athletes are ganging up on one particular player than you need to step in and do something about it. How can you have a true “team” when one player feels like their teammates don’t respect them or even like them? Not every athlete can be a superstar on the field, but that doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to the overall success of the team.
Kids horse around all the time. And while most times nothing comes of it, if you see your players engaging in unsafe behavior you need to put a stop to it immediately. What would happen if a kid got seriously injured on your watch because they were jumping from bleacher row to bleacher row and you didn’t tell them to knock it off? Even with the best safety precautions in place kids can and will get hurt, so why up the odds and let your players mess around?