What should we expect from fans and parents as coaches?
Every week a coach complains about a player’s parents. I have also been that parent before (oops), so I can see both sides. A healthy team has a parent or spectator agreement signed at the first of each season or once a year if you are a club program. This reminds parents what is expected. Feel free to use this agreement I created for my teams and customize it as you see fit.
Fully editable Printable Parent Spectator Basketball Agreement:
As coaches, we have all dealt with a player’s parents after a game, complaining about playing time, how we coached the game, or their son being open and not getting the ball. The most challenging part of the conversation is that the parents do not hear what you are saying in the huddle or to your players, so they only have half the information or less to form their options.
There was some advice I read from an online forum the other day about dealing with parents that I thought was worth sharing:
The biggest thing I would tell you is this:
1. I coach kids, not parents. NEVER even allow ANY family member to address you after a game. It’s the worst. They can call the school and schedule a meeting if they want to speak. Nothing will get solved at that moment, or schedule an appointment with you before practice.
2. You’ll never win with the majority of parents. It’s a lost cause. Don’t worry about it. My father used to tell me; the best place to coach is an orphanage because the parents aren’t around to screw it all up. That is the truest statement ever. It’s wonderful that you listen to criticism and self-reflect, but you don’t and shouldn’t have to listen to that right after a game.
Then he went on:
And a quick (long) side note: my last year as a varsity coach, we had a .500 team, at best. Our head coach, my boss, was the best guy I have ever worked for. HE CARED ABOUT KIDS. He didn’t give two flips about what his parents thought about anything. We sat one night with another loss to discuss where we just weren’t good enough, and I was stressing because I hated losing. He said you know what? I do, too. I hate losing. But then he shared a few things with me. We had one kid, an orphan and adopted, who had left home because of an abusive new stepdad and was living in the school. He would sneak in through a window at night, eat in the cafeteria, and shower in the coach’s office. Another kid had a pregnant girlfriend and the parents wanted the kid to talk the girl into an abortion. Lastly, another kid began questioning his existence and came to my head coach and told him he was suicidal and thought about taking his own life.
My head coach was aware of the kid living in the school and had been leaving the office unlocked so that he could shower and never said anything to the kid for a while. He figured out what was happening and would stay late to ensure the kid found the food he had left out in the cafeteria and a clean towel in the office. Eventually, he got the kid in with a different family and never said anything to us. The kid with the baby on the way is married now with two other kids. The suicidal kid? He got his degree and owns his own real estate company.
I saw this guy get roasted all the time by parents complaining why we don’t play more zone, why we suck, blah blah blah. And meanwhile, he is SAVING kids. It may not be that extreme. Your situation may not seem that bad, but you’re there. Sometimes, you’re all that kid has. So, don’t be so hard on yourself. These parents had no idea what their kids were dealing with. He did. And he never said a negative word to any of them.
That was fitting advice and something we all need to remember when dealing with parents. Most of us are doing it for the kids. Keep that in mind when talking with parents and also hold parents accountable to your code of conduct.
Here is my parent’s contact code again for you to use.