We’ve talked a lot before about “those” sports parents before; the helicopter parents, the ones that coach from the sidelines, the ones that are a overly invested in the outcome of the U-6 soccer game. No sports coach wants to deal with one of “those” sports parents every season, let alone a dozen of them. But we’ve also discussed what makes someone a bad youth sports coach and what is a parent to do when the coach is playing favorites, doesn’t really want to be there, or is disrespectful towards the players or even the parents themselves. Like anything, there are two sides to every story and what the parents sees and what the coach sees can be two very different things!
How far apart might sports parents and coaches be away from understanding each other? According to a new survey from Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports;
77 percent of parents place a high importance on their child’s coach to be a caring individual versus only 59 percent who place the same importance on the coach being skilled in that sport. And yet, one-third of coaches (36 percent) say they have experienced problems with parents’ unreasonable expectations regarding winning – despite three in four parents saying a primary reason they enrolled their child in youth sports was simply to have fun.
If parents really don’t care about winning why do 1/3 of youth sports coaches feel the pressure to perform from sports parents? Could one or two overly aggressive parents be ruining it for the rest of the team? After all, it only takes one of “those” parents to get on everyone’s nerves.
Another discrepancy between sports parents and coaches centers on involvement. While nine out of 10 parents claim to be involved by attending practices and games, nearly half (46 percent) of coaches say they experience problems with parents’ lack of involvement. Do those parents think that just hanging around during practice counts as “involved?” Maybe the coaches are looking for someone to actually lend a hand during practice with running drills and that’s their definition of “involved.”
We know that 70% of kids quit playing youth sports by the time they are 13. While we can speculate as to why, chances are the attitudes of their parents and coaches has a dramatic impact on whether a young athlete decides to quit playing sports or continue on with their athletic career. Think about it—would you want to stay involved in some kind of activity where the bystanders attack each other? Where the people in charge single out individuals for punishment? Of course not! And while those two stories might be extreme examples we all know someone (or are guilty of it ourselves) who puts the scoreboard ahead of the young players. But who is to blame? Is it the parents for putting too much pressure on the coaches (and their kids) to turn young players into superstars? Or do we blame the coaches for skipping over the fundamentals in order to pad their own record and focus only on the best players they have?
What we as parents and coaches say and do around our kids will influence them in one way or another, especially when it come to youth sports. If we aren’t all on the same page it’s no wonder kids are dropping sports! When Dad says one thing and their coach says something else the child is being pulled in two directions and they have to choose who to listen to. When parents and coaches aren’t on the same page it’s the kids who suffer.