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Keys to a Positive Coach-Parent Relationship

02/05/2014, 7:15am EST
By USAHockey.com

Brought to you by the Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports program, powered by Positive Coaching Alliance 

At Responsible Sports, we want your kids to win on and off the ice.  One way for them to win is to have positive parents involved with positive coaches to create positive youth sports outcomes.  How do you achieve that?  We have suggestions for both parents and coaches!


As a parent, help the coach by preparing your children to work well with him or her.  How can you make your kids more “coachable?”

Here are three other ways to positively engage with the coach:

  • Stay Mindful of the Coaches’ Commitment.  Coaches log many hours of preparation beyond the time spent at practices and games.  Remember that most of them are volunteers!
  • Make Early, Positive Contact with the Coach.  As soon as you learn who your child’s coach is going to be, introduce yourself, let him or her know you want to help your child enjoy the best possible experience, and offer to assist the coach in any way you’re qualified.  Why will this help if a problem arises later?

    Also, when coaches are doing something you like, let them know about it. Coaching is a stressful job, and many coaches only hear from parents when they decide to voice a complaint.
  • Let Coaches Coach.  Your child is trying to concentrate amid the chaotic, fast-moving action of a game, as well as follow the coach’s directions. A parent yelling out instructions hardly ever helps. Why does coaching from the stands undermine the coach-parent relationship?

Finally, and most importantly, Don’t Put the Player in the Middle.

There are situations that you or your kids need to address with the coach. How you address the issue is just as important as resolving the issue itself. 

Before you as the parent intervene, make sure you’ve asked yourself, “Is this something that my child should do for his or herself?”  Why is it valuable for your young athlete to approach the coach first?

However, there may come a time when you must intervene.  In that situation, talk with your child before intervening.  Let him or her know why you must get involved.


As a coach interested in developing players as athletes and people, it’s important to remember that your players’ parents can be your closest allies.

So make sure to hold a pre-season meeting with all the parents.  Enter the meeting with a well-prepared agenda.  Besides addressing your coaching philosophy and goals for the season, what are some other items that should be discussed in this meeting?

This meeting is a great step toward building the groundwork for positive relations with parents in the future.  Of course, it’s generally a good learning experience for the young athletes themselves to approach you with any issues.

But sometimes, parents will want to speak with you directly about issues like playing time and position.  How should you react?

Ultimately, as a Responsible Sport Coach, you must do what you think is right, just as you would teach your players to do and just as the players’ parents would teach them also.

At Liberty Mutual Insurance, we constantly look for ways to celebrate the countless acts of responsibility shown by people every day. We created Responsible Sports, powered by Positive Coaching Alliance, as part of this belief to help ensure that our kids experience the best that sports have to offer in environments that promote and display responsibility. We believe kids can learn valuable life lessons when coaches and parents come together to support winning on and off the field. Join the Responsible Sports movement!

In an effort to benefit millions of youth athletes, parents and coaches, this article is among a series created exclusively for partners in the Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports program, powered by Positive Coaching Alliance.

©2014 Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and Positive Coaching Alliance. All rights reserved. This material may not be distributed without express written permission. Any reproduction in whole or part by and individuals or organizations will be held liable for copyright infringement to the full extent of the law.

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