Notice: This article was written by Steve Jordan, Coach's Notebook. Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parental involvement varies widely from league to league, team to team, and even player to player. Sometimes a coach might feel desperate for help, but more often than not the coach wishes the parents would just mind their own business. The thing is, though, the players are the parent's business, even while playing on your team. The parents are always going to want to know what's going on, and will become indignant if they are left out of the communication loop. More than that, many parents have an intense desire to be directly involved with their child's activities, and if they feel shut out, they will seek ways to exert influence, and rarely in a positive way.
That said, too many coaches are reluctant to relinquish control over their team and fear parents will try to dictate playing time and style to the coach. To protect their own control over the team, coaches will make rules or policies to exclude parents. This is very frustrating to moms and dads who have dedicated their adulthood to running their child's life. They will act out in destructive ways.
The truth of the matter is most parents do not really want to run the team's practice or games. No, its much more fun to leave that up to the coach and have the luxury of critiquing his/her decisions without the responsibility of preparing the team to play. Nonetheless, parents definitely want their players to be successful, and that particular fact is the common thread between coach and parent that one can build a team around.
The trick for a successful coaching experience is figuring out how to turn parental intrusion into a team asset. Why not consider them to be a resource? If you think about it, parents have a awful lot to offer. They can do an excellent job of running the business end of the program. Properly directed, they can make things possible for your team that no coach can accomplish alone. Remember, the actual team roster includes more than player names. The team-at-large has players, coaches, administrators and parents within its circle. It takes a team that big to make a great program.
The challenge for many coaches is that they don't know how to harness all that power. Coaching 12 active children is a pretty all-consuming task. Managing a team parents may seem just too much to take on. However, taking the time to review your parents and listing their individual skills and talents may provide a glimpse of the full potential of your greater team. The list below shows several positive and useful ways a parent can help and be a real team member. In fact, the term "team member" is a key ingredient to your recipe. A real team member has a role to play, responsibilities to the program, and directly affects the team through personal performance. Just because a parent doesn't shoot the ball or make substitutions doesn't mean they don't make a significant difference.
Look at this list and see how many ways your parents can contribute. Don't forget to sincerely recognize them for the work they do. Help them identify with the team and each other. T shirts, jackets, caps ... anything at all to build a feeling of unity. Once it gets started, don't micromanage it. Give your team a vision and let them realize it using their energy, creativity and resourcefulness. While the parents are busy doing all the work, go have a great time coaching your kids.
Be a Team Member