“Parents: Best of frienemies”
This is an actual line. And actually, a very dumb one.
Every coach has or will hear a mom shout, “hit his stick!” or a dad yell for the full-field, empty-net shot. You know full well that lil’ Skippy is going to miss that shot and toss the possession away.
Sure, there are times when you can (and should) shake your head at parents, but don’t disqualify them. Parents trust you with their sons and daughters, they want to see you do well, and they probably foot the bill for this grand lacrosse experiment — they are the biggest shareholders in the program.
STAY ATTUNED TO PARENTS. You want their support! It takes five steps to let them in…
Step 1, COMMUNICATE YOUR AGENDA. Our standards, our goals, our calendar. Be detailed! How will your tryouts work? Who makes the team? Why did you schedule three really hard games at the start of the season? Do this at your big pre-season parent meeting. This is your chance to show parents that their coach is pragmatic and thoughtful. Discuss “the why” behind things, and they’ll have your back.
Step 2, EXPLAIN YOUR GROUND RULES. The door is *almost* always open. Concerns about your son, his studies, his social life, his health — I want to hear about it! We are caretakers, and a strong coach always knows the pulse of her team. But if parents want to complain to me about playing time, strategies or anything else on the field, please know that I will not accept it. If playing time is an issue, your kid should take responsibility and talk to me.
Step 3, BE PROACTIVE. Meetings, emails, texts, Twitter, the website… parents love and deserve communication, and they get most upset about scheduling snags and things that cause inconvenience. Field locations, practice changes, dress codes — don’t trust the player to communicate this stuff. Let your parents know directly, and be proactive about it.
Step 4, REVEAL THE PLAN. Send out an email in the days before each game. Let them know what you’re expecting from the opponent, what you’re expecting from your guys, how the week has gone, challenges overcome, etc. If you reveal the plan, they’ll trust that you have one.
Step 5, PUT YOUR JUDGMENT ON DISPLAY. You want parents to hear YOUR point of view, before they hear it from someone else. Tough on a kid one day? Text his dad. “Hey, I was hard on him today but he did a great job…” A little note goes a long way.
And feel free to explain to everyone why the empty-net, 60 yard shot is a bad idea. Remember, we’re in this thing together.
~ Small details build the foundation — be aware of EVERYTHING ~