The Importance of Coach-Parent Realtionships


The relationship between the coach and his player's parents is a relationship that is vital to holding the team together. In most cases, parents want what is best for their child and will do about anything to get it. Despite this, there are many parents out there that find the best way to do this is to be super involved in everything their child does in the game. These parents yell at referees, criticize coaches, and yell at their child when they are not performing. This ultimately can ruin the child's motivation and create an environment where they find it difficult to just have fun. It is important for coaches to establish a solid relationship with parents right off the bat so they may enjoy watching their child and players have fun and develop their basketball skills. It takes commitment from both sides and also an understanding that this is youth sport and it is in no one's interest to diminish a child's experience with sports.

The "M" cap idea in "Why Good Coaches Quit," was very interesting to me and I found that I really could see it working in the right situation and under the right control. It originated from a fellow coach on the USA team and the head coach of Texas, Augie Garrido. He used it by giving player plain orange hats and having them earn the T on the front of the cap. They Minnesota version of this started after an alcohol incident where the coaches only gave five hats with M's on them to players. They were chosen by the coaches because of their attitude, class attendance, and responsibility and only one senior received one of these five caps (Anderson and Aberman, 2006). John Anderson said, "The program is designed to teach responsibility and ownership, but it is not intended to put player in charge." You could see how this could cause problem with player's parents and the coach as it did in the first year. It needed to be clear that this was only in the benefit of the player and had nothing to do with their athletic performance. I also found the pyramid diagram in Anderson and Aberman (2006) to be a great visual aid of what the relationship between coaches, athletes, and the athletes family should be. It has coach on top with a dotted line; the athlete and family fill up the bottom of the pyramid. They say the dotted line is the coach as the consultant.

The NASPE website is a great reference for learning about how we can find ways to help improve knowledge of how to develop a child's experiences and relationships through sport. It helps parents become aware of what they can do to youth sports if they are "that parent." It is a great tool to better youth sports in many ways. I think it is very important for these types of websites to get more attention in areas of youth sport so parents can learn how to enhance their child's overall experience of sport.

-Trevor Maring

Works Cited:
• Anderson & Aberman (2006). Why Good Coaches Quit. Monterey, CA: Coaches Choice
• Through a Child's Eyes: Parents' Guide to Improving Youth Sports.

**I could not get either of the videos to work
(The FA Parent Guide Video and The FA Background Anger Video)

Coach-Parent Partnership

I feel that everyone who has ever participated in, coached, or have been a supporter of an athlete in sport has seen "that parent." They are the one who are constantly yelling at the referees, coaches, and the players for anything that they disagree with. From personal experience it frustrating when you have a parent on the team acting as a second coach on the sidelines. It embarrasses the child of that parent and causes a distraction from the game.

The AAHPERD parenting guide for sports addressed a lot of the negative issues that is seen of parents while at their child's sporting event. One thing that I found interesting is that the guide suggests that a parent play only one role whether it is a coach, playing, an official, or a fan. A lot of parents try to be all four at a time yelling out orders or calling out rule violations from the sidelines. Though a lot of parent's intentions are good at heart they do not realize the embarrassing situation they are creating for their athlete. The parent guide gives suggestions to parents to help them give their athlete a better sporting experience such as helping their athlete keep realistic goals, see the big picture by promoting values in sport, and have a child centered philosophy. The FA Parent Guide video showed different aspects who are involved in youth sport and how being "that parent" affects everyone that is involved.

The video clips on the FA Parent Guide website are just a reminder of how sport can be negative in a child's life. It is sad to see it happening in real life you slowly see a child who started playing for the love of the game turn into a child who is just there playing physically and not mentally there enjoying the sport. The video that resonated with me the most on the FA's website was the videos with the child's point of view and how he felt when his dad acted the way he did. It is unfortunate to see this in real life because like the child in the video most kids do not know or want to tell their parents that they are making them miserable. In the video the coach of the child did a good job of positively encouraging his athletes every time that the dad yelled. It is hard as a coach to know what the boundaries are of telling a parent how to act during a game

In Anderson and Aberman (2006) they describe how a caring coach can quickly go from being an involved coach to an athlete's parental advisor or even more. In story the coach Warren walks a very fine line of being a trusting coach for his athlete Jenny and a barrier separating Jenny from her family. The key to the success Warren had with this situation was having someone as a sounding board, Donny. It is important for coaches to have their own support system as well as the athlete. Going into situations like this one alone could be a disaster. I have seen it at my high school where the coach-athlete relationship line gets blurred. This can lead to accusations that may or may not be true because of the amount of time spent with the athlete, especially alone time. All coaches can benefit from the coaching pyramid in Anderson and Aberman (2006) to remind them of what their role should be in their athlete's life. The role of the coach can also vary in an athlete's life depending on the age of the athlete. Coach Anderson in Anderson and Aberman (2006) described "M" cap that what put into place on his team. He acted like a parent in the respect that he was challenging his athletes to grown and learn what they needed to do to become responsible in all aspects of their life.

Sara Goral

-Anderson & Aberman (2006). Why Good Coaches Quit. Monterey, CA: Coaches Choice
-The FA Parent Guide.
-Through a Child's Eyes: Parents' Guide to Improving Youth Sports. http://www.sportsmanship.

The Coach and Parent relationship

As an athlete and as a coach I have witnessed some of the strangest behavior I have ever seen in and around athletic events. Don't get me wrong there are many great parents out there involved with their children's athletic activities, but sometimes they are a few who are more than a burden to the athlete and the others involved. The behaviors I have seen first hand have been swearing at the referees, coaches, and even some times the athlete. Another time I have saw a fist fight between one parent and my Coach. I have seen physical and verbal abuse taken place in front of many spectators, and these moments were the most embarrassing for everyone involved. Similar to the FA parent guide scenes where the father is yelling at his son. This behavior does not demonstrate the 3 c's, and make sports un-enjoyable. This lack of communication from coach to athlete to parent is something all participants in sports need to recognize.
In my opinion I think parents should have to take a course on how to act and react when involved in sport. Anderson and Aberman describe the role of the coach, but not of the parent (2006). Parents also need to recognize the type environment they are creating by these outbursts. Vealey says these outbursts make the athlete, player and those involved with the team feel less than adequate, and lowers self-esteem(2005). Most athletes would prefer their parents to remain silent unless there is something positive to say about the game. It is important for the parents to understand that these actions can be detrimental to the athlete and those involved. Creating the "toxic environmnent" may steer the athlete away from sports completely. Especially at the youth level where the kids are participating to meet new friends and enjoy the outside.
In the end it is up to Coaches and parents to set solid examples of sportsmanship and teach the values that sports can provide.

-Nathan Morton

Vealey, R. (2005). Coaching for the Inner Edge. Morgantown, VW: Fitness Information

Anderson & Aberman (2006). Why Good Coaches Quit. Monterey, CA: Coaches Choice

The FA Parent Guide.

Through a Child's Eyes: Parents' Guide to Improving Youth Sports.

Modification of Parent Behavior

My inner monologue often includes the following statement: "Dear parents, please go away."
Please go away when:
• you are projecting your goals onto your children.
• you are trying to tell coaches how to coach when you have NO idea what you're doing.
• you are making excuses for your children's bad behavior.
• you are deliberately undermining the philosophy of the team.
• you think your child is more important than all the other children on the team.

There is nothing more frustrating than having to deal with parents in the above situations. There is a very delicate balance between coaches, parents and athletes. Anderson and Aberman discuss this relationship in terms of role definition of the coach (2006). They do not, however, define the role of the parent. As suggested by many of the commentaries found on, the role of the parent ought to be one of support and enthusiasm. When parents are overly vocal in negative or pushy ways, the child of that parent, as well as the rest of the team and other parents become embarrassed. These outbursts also lead to intimidation of players, parents, coaches and referees ( On a large scale, these outbursts do not create a good image for the team, but on a small scale, the impact can be much more devastating. Verbal attacks of a player's skill send the message that the child is not good enough for the parent, decreasing their self-worth and feelings of competence (Vealey, 2005). Kids reported that they would rather have nothing said than to have parents speaking negatively on the sidelines. The athletes also report that their main objectives in football were to stay fit and enjoy time with their friends (
As coaches, we need to help parents understand that children participate in sport at a young age because it is meant to be a fun learning experience to share with friends. The parents also need to understand that sport is about getting every child a chance to play and help them improve as much as possible for them. No matter what the skill level is at the end of the season, if there was improvement, then the child's experience is a success!
I think setting important guidelines in writing for the parents is an important first step in helping them understand their role as parents of athletes. Many school districts distribute a parent code of conduct with sports registration materials; Coaches of the individual teams need to also address these issues with their parents, as the coaches within a district may have different expectations. The resources available to help parents understand their role provide many helpful tips that cover everything from support in practice, to games, to how to be supportive and healthy at home ( They also provide some excellent probing questions that may help some parents identify problem behaviors before they show up on the sidelines ( Unfortunately, there will always be parents that don't see that their behavior is potentially damaging to the 3C's felt by the athletes.

Sports is the Hand, Parents Should be the Glove

There are a lot of factors that youth players have to deal with on and off the field. School work and house work seem to collide on a near daily basis and it seems that a lot of the time kids seek the stress relief environment of sports to unwind from time to time. They may get hounded at by a coach or a teammate or two, but they know that when they go home, they can come back to their everyday life and get back to work. But what happens if those stressors that may arise on the playing field come home with the athlete and add to the pressures of everyday life. Parents that are fans and parents that are coaches are in a crucial position with their child and they don't always remember to think about how their actions might be affecting their child.

In the Anderson and Aberman reading, it discusses how important it is for young athletes to have a solid relationship with their parents and that when athletes begin to dissolve the relationship with their parents and begin to rely on their coaches for love and support, lines can be crossed and the attention of focusing on becoming a better athlete can shift towards wanting a new role model in his or her life (Anderson & Aberman 2006). The example of this can be seen within the coaching pyramid that involves the coach, the athlete, and the athlete's parents. If a coach can successfully build a strictly coaching relationship with his or her athlete but at the same time make sure that the athlete has a good support system at home, then they will have an athlete that is eager to participate in sports and can reap the benefits of having both an athletic role model in their coach and an everyday role model in their parents.

When parents don't provide a positive support system for their child, it can lead to things such as burning out, losing interest in the sport, or picking up bad habits that might hinder their performance. In the two videos that I watched (FA Parent Guide, Background Anger Hockey Video) they gave perfect examples of how fans, including fans that have children playing in the game, can ruin sports by their behavior. The videos showed parents doing things such as blaming referees for making their child's team lose, questioning the coach's game plan (telling their child the opposite of what they have been taught), and complaining that their child isn't being treated fairly on the team and that they should be given preferential treatment. While they think that by saying these things they are actually helping their child's playing ability and self-esteem, they are actually creating a negative environment that can cause one of many problematic issues for the athlete.

Sports are a great way for kids to learn many valuable skills. They learn how to exercise, socialize with peers, and work together as a unit and sometimes individually. For parents, when it comes to their child's sports, they need to find a role that suits them and their child correctly. Some parents are able to be a great coach for their child and can balance being a father and a coach. Other parents are contributors from the stands and are willing to go to games and practices and cheer on their children. It's great that parents are willing to be a part of their youth's athletic experience, but they need to be able to ask themselves, "What does my child want me to be when it comes to sports"? Some kids don't want to see their mom or dad as their coach and would rather have them just sit in the stands and support them that way. It's not bad for them to want this, it is just the way that they want their parents to support him or her. Too often do parents become a coach or a screaming fan and never realize that it is affecting their child's performance on the field. They need to be able to sit down with their son or daughter and just ask the simple question about how their child wants them to support their athletic career.

I can draw a great example from my personal life that deals with parents being good role models in sports. My dad was a ranked college tennis player at Hamline University and still plays to this day. Even though he was a high caliber athlete with a diverse background in sports, he always asked me what I wanted to do when it came to sports. He never pushed me into anything and would always remind me that he would only coach and instruct me if I asked him directly. He still showed up to my games and whenever I needed help with something he would be there to help me out, and for that I cannot thank him enough. I credit my continual love of sports to him and am happy to say that I had such a positive role model as a young athlete.

Parents can be great role models for their children as long as they are committed to listening to what their children desire as far as support goes. They need to take a serious look at themselves and understand that what they are doing may not be benefiting their child as much as they think it is. Opening the lines of communication between parents and their young athletes, and also those athletes and their coaches, can do wonders for the well being of the athlete.

Anderson & Aberman (2006). Why Good Coaches Quit. Monterey, CA: Coaches Choice

The FA Parent Guide.

Background Anger Hockey Video

Through a Child's Eyes: Parents' Guide to Improving Youth Sports.

Commitment to Partnership

Commitment to Partnership

The partnership between coach and parent is all about commitment. Parental involvement in sport is generally crucial to athletes at a young age. The balance between parents and coaches is most important at the youth level and also the most prevalent at any level. It is important that parents be committed to their children's athletic involvement. However, it is also important that parents are not overcommitted and that both coaches and parents understand boundaries in sport.
Anderson and Aberman (2006) present a coaching pyramid that demonstrates a simple view of the interaction between coach, parent, and athlete. First, they state the importance of parents making a commitment to their children's involvement, but not being controlling and providing space as needed. This applies especially to the coach, as well. The pyramid demonstrates an ideal balance between all parties. Family should always come first for athletes. There should be no boundary between parent and child. There needs to be some sort of boundary between coach and athlete. This is demonstrated in the pyramid by a dotted line. Anderson and Aberman refer to the coach as a consultant. The coach should leave parenting to parents and can not chose to be what Anderson and Aberman refer to as a social therapist to the athlete. Ideally, a coach should exceptionally lead athletes in the respective sport, but can offer guidance in other areas as needed. Meetings between coaches, players, and parents should establish an acceptable amount of interaction between all parties.
The problem of over-commitment is examined in the FA Parent Guide. Parents who are too involved can be problematic when they are living vicariously through their children on the competitive field. Behaviors such as coaching from the sideline can undermine the coach. Parents undoubtedly mean well when they seek active involvement in their children's sport, but must leave coaching to the coach.
As well as creating a montage for the over-committed parent, the FA Parent Guide also offers commentary for how youth feel about parent behaviors. It is essential that parents and coaches work together to listen to why young athletes participate in sport. The majority of young soccer players in the commentary mentioned "fun" and "enjoyment" as reasons why they play soccer. They are mostly intrinsically motivated as they play for love of the game rather than "winning at all costs". Young athletes want support from parents in all situations, good and bad. The over-committed parent who exhibits controlling behavior at the youth level can confuse young athletes. This confusion can reduce intrinsic motivation and lead to drop-out. Again, it is essential in youth sport that parents and coaches partner up to keep kids in sport for love of the game. Parents may not always be aware of how to translate parenting into sport. A good coach will lead by example. Referring back to the coaching pyramid of Anderson and Aberman, the coach sits on top. The coach is ultimately the leader in sport, but interaction with parents is important to make the best opportunities for the athlete.

Matt DeVinney

Coaching Parents

The NAPSE brochure is one of the many fantastic resources I have been completely unaware of until this class. Educating yourself whenever possible I believe is a good rule to go by, and this brochure allows parents to do just that. The development a child can receive from relationships and experiences through sport is endless when provided with the correct tools. I often feel it is much easier for youth sports to be ruined by adults than for the children not to benefit. This brochure helps make parents aware of this and prevent it from happening. I will definitely use these resources as suggestions to parents if relevant issues were to arise.

I found Warrens' story very interesting. As a coach I can understand how quickly and easily Warren and Jenny's case turned in the wrong direction. Especially with how often they were around each other, basically all of their free time. Being around someone that often it can be difficult not to build a relationship more than the professional athlete coach. This is a line I have definitely unintentionally flirted with while coaching. A player continually looking for personal advice or frequent texts can become uncomfortable very quickly. I was impressed with how Warren handled it. He knew it was over his head at this point and sought for advice. The end of this chapter really got me thinking about having a coach I looked up to. I really have been fairly on my own up to this point, mainly by choice. I think creating a more personal, mentor, type situation would be very helpful. Often I feel unsure of what to do and some guidance would be of great help. Coaching with and learning first hand may be a possibility I should explore as well!

I thought the FA videos were very well done. Unfortunately the yelling father is a common theme in youth sports it seems. I have had back to back worst and best experiences with parents this past winter and spring. In one group I knew very few of the parents and would only meet them when they had an issue. I had one mother fight my no F's policy that she signed and agreed to until the day her son was kicked out of the school for his grades. This baffled me and unfortunately was not the only situation with the parents that I felt was inappropriate. This spring all the parents have been very supportive and intent on introducing themselves to me. They are honest with me. They respectably give me ideas, I agree with almost all of them, and give me praise when they are pleased. I am thoroughly enjoying working with this team because the parents let me coach and are extremely supportive and helpful off the court.

Brian Jungwirth

Coach-Parent Partnership

Coach-Parent Partnership

I believe that the self-assessment tool that is provided by NASPE is enlightening in regard to what parents should do. Focusing on the child's development and not the scoreboard or the scholarship that can be offered is important in regaining control of youth sports. Focusing on the 'big picture' for your child helps them develop not only as children, but also young adults. Honoring and respecting the game was also highlighted in the article and are key aspects in the development of youth sports. The NASPE article briefly discusses the report card that was done by the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance, which would be an interesting tool to use in the self-assessment. The article states that the results of the report card were appalling, but doesn't reveal what they are. I went to the site that was given and found out the two Ds that were issued were Parental Behavior/Involvement and Child-Centered Philosophy. This is shocking and disturbing that parents are focused on their children, but themselves.

I thought that the "M" cap story in Anderson and Aberman was very intriguing. The fact that the athletes took control of it after a couple years and would turn their "M" cap over if they felt they didn't deserve that honor. You have to trust what you are doing for it to work even if it doesn't work the first couple of years. Sometimes you may have to alter your system to make it fit to the athletes on your team, but you need to trust your system and your philosophy to be effective. Another key point that Anderson and Aberman make is that as a coach you need to be a consultant, but not a parent. The coach needs to make sure there isn't a solid line between the athlete and the parent because that relationship between the athlete and parent is important with youth athlete development. Anderson and Aberman made very good points in regard to your coaching system and the development of it.

The FA Parent Guide scenes were rather disturbing. The father yelling at his son and his teammates confused all of them and took their mind off of what they do best, which is have fun. When someone is yelling and trying to 'coach from the bleachers' the team doesn't know what is right and wrong and takes away the role of coach away. The coach is there for a reason and regardless of the outcome supporting your youth athlete is the most important thing. Officials are also there for a reason and just because you yell at them doesn't mean the call is going to be changed. I use to be one of those that got upset when an official 'made a bad call,' but then I officiated a game and that gave me a totally different perspective. Ever since that game I cannot stand it when people yell at the officials, even my own parents and I will beg them to keep quiet because it is embarrassing. As a parent being there for support is what will help them develop as individuals not yelling at them and everyone else involved in the game. Working together as a coach and parent will give your athlete the optimal experience, performance, and development that is desired.

Molly Augustine

Work Citied:
Anderson & Aberman (2006), pp.142‐156, 64‐73.
The FA Parent Guide (video scenes)
Through a Child's Eyes:Parents' Guide to Improving Youth Sports

Avoiding Strategic Ambiguity

Parents generally mean well for their kids and they want them to succeed. However, to much parental involvement can actually hurt the athletes performance. That is why it is important that clearly see their defined role and excel at that instead of acting like a coach. Regardless, the parent should be supportive of the child no matter how poorly the athlete is doing. This blog will argue that parents and coaches should only emphasize their role or they will be seen as an obstacle. The parent and coach can facilitate an environment that promotes fun for the athlete by making it primarily athlete centered.

To begin, the FA Parent Guide gives the example of a soccer dad who acts like a coach but should be acting like a parent. Initially, the dad gave expectations on how to perform at the beginning of the game, while during the game the dad gave directions on how to perform often interfering with the coach's leadership, and the referee's credibility. At the end, the dad blamed the coach, the referee for the son's performance. Several things went wrong here, because the dad acted like a coach, he inadvertently did not allow his child to express himself or have fun in the game. The athlete's performance declined as well because the motivation for performing the sport was primarily extrinsic (his dad) (LaVoi). In order to change the athlete's attitude, the parent has to step back and be supportive of what the athlete does accomplish and what he does not. It is up to the coach to provide direction, not the parent. In addition, it did not help having the dad blaming others for the athlete's performance. However, the parent can provide criticism such as a 'Praise sandwich'. This is done by being specific on the athlete did well, following what the athlete could of improved on and ending with another compliment(Youth Sport Guide). By doing this, the soccer son would have looked upon the dad more favorably because it shows that the dad supports him by veiling criticism. This is important because it allows the coach to be a coach, while the parent can be act like a coach without necessarily being one. Being indirect promotes set roles. If it was not, there would be a blurring of roles and athletes will adapt it as a norm.

A similar example stems from Anderson and Aberman, instead of the parent acting liking a coach, the coach is acting like a parent (64). This is seen where a tennis athlete was sick of her dad giving directions. Because the dad never listened to her, the athlete resorted to the coach and started asking him pretty personal things. Because the situation became inappropriate, the coach decided to involve the parents watching the athlete practice. The coach was able to redraw the lines between what a coach does and what a parent does. Luckily, the athlete was able to see that. Because the coach knew his role and could see how it was becoming a parent role, the coach was able to differentiate and reestablish positive norms for both parents and coaches.

Blurring the roles between the coach and the parent is detrimental to the athletes because they will not see the positive example of either roles. If one acts like the other, the athlete assumes, the athlete can do the same once he/she gets older. This strategic ambiguity does not the help the athlete but only reinforces ill behavior. The coach and the parent have to realize, especially at youth levels, that athletes use sport to have fun, find a passion and explore. It is up to the parents to support these concepts and it is up to the coach to give direction and provide guidance within these contexts.

-Sam Suber ♫

Player, Coach, Parent

The pyramid used in Anderson and Aberman is a useful illustration of the relationship that should exist between coach and player, coach and parent, and parent and child. The main problem with the situation involving Jenny is that she began to see her coach as a friend. A coach may play other roles for an athlete other than strictly being a coach, but playing the role of a friend should not be one of those roles. In college, often times a coach will play the role of a parent for a player. This is not uncommon because many athletes are a long way from home and a coach can give guidance, support and discipline much the same way a parent would do. I like what Warren said to Jenny in one of their later conversations: "Everyone needs someone to talk to sometime, but my main job is to help you become the very best tennis player possible." Warren did a nice job of letting Jenny know he was there to listen to her frustrations, but that he was a coach first and foremost. What I like about the pyramid is that the line between coach and player is not a solid line. This is important because athletes must feel their coach cares about them as a person and not only as an athlete. This is summed up well by the popular phrase, "They don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."

The FA Parent Guide videos are a great example of problems that exist in youth sports. Obnoxious parents are a common occurrence in youth sports. I agree with Elizabeth's comment in her blog that although she was appalled by the father's behavior, she is sympathetic knowing that the father just wants what is best for his son. There is nothing wrong with wanting to give your child the best experience possible, but most parents have probably never educated themselves on the best way to do this. Without completely letting obnoxious adults off the hook, some parents are unaware that their yelling and screaming (which they perceive as helpful coaching) is detrimental to their child's sporting experience. As mentioned in the video, when a parent begins to yell and coach from the sidelines it undermines not only the coach, but the confidence of the child as well as the child's ability to think for him/herself. A yelling parent puts unreasonable expectations and pressure on their child. The whole situation in the video became so bad that Joe's dad decided he wanted to put Joe on another team. I find it interesting that Joe's dad never took the time to ask him what he thought of the game and his experience on the team. When asked why they play soccer, all the kids talked about the enjoyment of the game and the chance to be part of a team. In youth sports, winning and losing does not matter as much to the kids as it does to some parents. A child likes to see their parent encouraging from the sidelines and being supportive of all the players on the field.

Dan DeWitt

**I was unable to open the youtube video or the AAPHERD brochure