David Jacobson | @positivecoachus
A critical element of a positive environment in youth and high school lacrosse is an effective partnership between parents and coaches. Here are five tips on how parents can forge that partnership, or conversely, how coaches can encourage parents to contribute to a positive experience for their children.
1. Recognize the commitment the coach has made
Coaches make a commitment that involves many, many hours of preparation beyond the hours spent at practices and games. Parents should recognize that commitment and the fact that coaches are not doing it because of the pay. Try to remember this whenever something goes awry during the season.
2. Make early, positive contact
As soon as you know who your child’s coaches are, introduce yourself and let them know you want to help your child have the best possible experience this season. To the extent that you can do so, ask if there is any way you can help. By getting to know the coaches early and establishing a positive relationship, it will be much easier to talk with them later if a problem arises.
3. Fill the coaches’ emotional tanks
People’s emotional tanks are like cars’ gas tanks: When they’re empty, we go nowhere, but with a full emotional tank, we can go almost anywhere. When coaches are doing something you like, let them know about it. Coaching is a difficult job, and most coaches only hear from parents when they want to complain about something. Just about every coach does a lot of things well. Take the time to look for ways you can fill the emotional tanks of your children’s coaches.
4. Don't put the player in the middle
Imagine a situation around the dinner table, where you are complaining in front of your children about how poorly their math teacher is teaching fractions. How would this impact your children’s motivation to work hard to learn fractions? How would it affect their love of mathematics?
That may seem farfetched, but when we move from school to youth sports, it is all too common for parents to voice disapproval of a coach with their children. This puts a young athlete in a bind. Divided loyalties make it hard for children to do their best. Conversely, when parents support a coach, it is easier for children to put wholehearted effort into their sports. If you think your child’s coach is not handling a situation well, don’t share that with your player. Rather, seek a meeting with the coach to discuss the matter privately.
5. Don't give instructions during a game or practice
You are not one of the coaches, so don’t yell instructions about how to play. Hearing someone other than the coach yelling instructions during a game can confuse children. If you have a tactical idea, share it with the coaches when they are open to hearing it (likely not during a game). If the coaches decide against using your idea, recognize they have earned that privilege by making the commitment to coach.
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