I often hear the phrase, “My coach is against me,” or “My child’s coach shows favoritism towards other players.” Yes, favoritism does sometimes happen and yes, almost every player feels their coach is against them at some point. (These are intended for college-aged players but some points also apply to youth sports…)
Before your child makes the final decision to quit or transfer to another university, put some thought into these points:
#1- You’re not going to win every battle, it’s just not realistic to think you will always get your way with your child’s coach. If you do, your child isn’t playing for a quality coach or you are in the wrong profession!
#2- Understand that you run your house one way, and coaches have the authority to run their ‘house’ their way. Very few coaches are going to drastically change their approach so it’s often their way, or the highway when it comes to player-coach disagreements. It’s up to the Athletic Director to decide if the coach is running their program in an acceptable way. Then, it’s up to your child (and family) to decide if they want to be a part of it
#3- Coaches mindset is to do what is best for the PROGRAM and TEAM. Your job as a parent has always been to do what is best for your CHILD. Those are two different sets of priorities that are often on different timelines and paces. It takes time for athletes to develop, coaches understand it’s a process while some parents expect miracles overnight.
#4- To avoid issues, it’s best to have an open relationship with your child’s coaches—not just the head coach but assistant coaches too. Tell them to feel free to call you and keep you up-to-date on any problems your child is having. Without communication, your first sign of trouble may be too late. Many problems can be resolved if everyone communicates.
#5- Understand that coaches want to win just as much as anyone else—their job actually depends on it. Therefore, they’re going to play the best option available. Also understand most coaches would “rather be 1 week late than 1 week early” in terms of when to give an athlete playing time or a starting job. They would rather KNOW the player is ready than to THINK the player is ready if there is quality depth at that position.
#6- Many players face the same problems that affect their happiness and/or playing time. Ask your child’s coach if they know the root of the problem:
– Often issues with playing time are the result of players being less skilled, less conditioned, players with negative attitudes, tardiness, class attendance problems or issues with practice, weights or study hall
– Many issues also stem from personal problems that players may be going through: family stress, health problems, relationship issues, stress, money stress, a death in the family, etc.
#7- Threatening or insulting your child’s coach rarely works—You will never bully them into changing their mind so save your time.
#8- From a coaches’ standpoint, many playing time issues other than talent level stem from a lack of maturity. You may not see it at home, immaturity may rise to the top once players are in competitive or pressure situations.
#9- Understand that rosters change all the time. Your child will have opportunities—they just may take more time than expected. Playing time changes from player-to-player at many positions throughout the year due to suspensions, academic issues, injuries, etc.
#10- YOUR JOB as a parent is to help your children develop patience. The younger they learn this, the better they will handle disappointments on the field and in life. Your child’s freshman year of college (or high school) is not the time to introduce them to the concepts of patience and having a strong work ethic!
#11- Negative attitudes from many players stem from sources outside of their team: parents, hometown friends, high school coaches and teammates are always asking, “Why aren’t you playing yet?” Eliminate this pressure! Do not feed your child’s negative attitude with even more negativity or pressure about playing time.
#12- Instead of always telling your child that their coach is “not fair,” tell them to “work a little harder.”
#13- Every year I have worked with a player who has transferred and within the year, a spot opened up, a spot they could have easily stepped in to. Many teams lack depth, and spots open up every day, every year. Teach your children a strong work ethic and patience.
#14- In some cases, there are equally talented and capable players at the same position. There are only so many positions on the field/court. Sometimes coaches can rotate players at that position successful to share playing time but alternating players often can disrupt team chemistry. Players need stability on the court/field, so there are times when a player may have to wait longer for their opportunity, even if they are equally as talented as the starter in front of them.
#15- Many historically great players didn’t earn starting jobs until their junior or senior year! Players aren’t failures if they aren’t starting as freshmen or sophomores. Focus on how your children can DEVELOP throughout their college career—they have four or five (or even sometimes six) years to develop into a great, contributing player. Remember—to be a part of a team with great depth is a gift and will likely get them closer to a championship and learning what it takes to win and develop strong teamwork skills.
REMEMBER – lessons learned in youth and college sports translate to your child’s adult life. They are learning more than just Xs and Os—they are learning how to deal with disappointment and adversity while developing a work ethic, competitive drive and relentless attitude that they can carry over into business and their professional and family life. Egos must be kept in check!