By Don Showalter
Both parenting and coaching are extremely difficult vocations. By establishing an understanding of each position, we are better able to accept the actions of others and provide greater benefit to the students. As parents, when your children become involved in a school’s programs, you have the right to understand what expectations are placed on your child. This begins with clear communications to the coach of your child's program.
Communication you should expect from your child's coach
1. Expectations the coach has for your child as well as the players on the squad.
2. Location and times of all practices and contests.
3. Team requirements, i.e., fees, special equipment, off-season conditioning.
4. Procedure should your child be injured during participating.
5. Team rules and guidelines, and lettering requirements.
Communication coaches expect from athletes
1. Notification of any schedule conflicts in advance.
2. Special concerns in regard to a coach's philosophy and/or expectations.
As your children become involved in a athletic program, they will experience some of the most rewarding moments of their lives. It is important to understand that there also may be times when things do not go the way that your child wishes. At these times discussion with the coach is encouraged.
Appropriate concerns to discuss with coaches
1. The treatment of your child – mentally and physically.
2. Ways to help your child improve.
3. Concerns about your child's behavior.
It is very difficult to accept your child not playing as much as you desire. Coaches are professionals. They make judgment decisions based on what they believe to be the best for all students involved. As you see from the list above, certain things can be and should be discussed with your child's coach. Other things, such as the following, must be left to discretion of the coach.
Issues not appropriate to discuss with coaches
1. Playing time
2. Team strategy
3. Play calling
4. Other student-athletes
There are situations that may require a conference between the coach and the parent. These are to be encouraged. It is important that both parties involved have a clear understanding of the other position. When these conferences are necessary, the following procedure should be followed to help promote a resolution to the issue of concern.
If you have a concern to discuss with the coach, the procedure you should follow:
1. Call to set up an appointment.
2. If the coach cannot be reached, call the athletic director. He or she will set up a meeting for you.
3. Please do not attempt to confront a coach before or after a contest or practice. These can be emotional times for the parent and the coach. Meetings of this nature do not promote resolution.
What can a parent do if the meeting with the coach did not provide satisfactory resolution?
1. Call and set up an appointment with the athletic director or principal to discuss a situation.
2. At this meeting the appropriate next step can be taken.
Since research indicates a student involved in cocurricular activities has a greater chance for success during adulthood, these programs have been established. Many of the character traits required to be a successful participant are exactly those that will promote a successful life after high school. We hope the information provided here makes both your child's and your experience with the school’s athletic programs less stressful and more enjoyable.
(Reprinted from the Summer 1999 issue of NFHS Coaches’ Quarterly.)
About the Author: Don Showalter is in his second year as basketball coach at City High School in Iowa City, Iowa, after 28 years as basketball coach at Mid-Prairie High School in Wellman, Iowa, and eight years at Central Elkader High School in Iowa. Overall, he had compiled a 562-294 record through the 2011-12 season. Showalter has led the USA men to gold medals with undefeated records in the 2010 and 2012 FIBA U17 World Championships, and the 2009 and 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championships. He is a member of the High School Today Publications Committee.