Over the weekend, I overheard a conversation between a dad and his middle school aged son regarding football advice. “If you want to keep play football, you need to stop holding up people when you tackle them. You are bigger than half the kids out there. You need to start hurting people, breaking their bones, and sh!t. If you want to play football for the rest of your life, you gotta hurt people.”
This is certainly not the best advice for a career in football, and cringe worthy for fellow players. This poor kid is going to walk into practice armed with advice from his dad telling him to hurt people vs. advice from his coach, which I am sure supports safer methods. I am not doubting that this father wants the best for his son, but this advice is surely not even close to being sound for a young athlete who wants to succeed in football.
Coaches, you probably face these types of counterproductive messages constantly. Parents who want the best for their children but may not give the best tips or provide advice that goes against your team goals. Coaching has changed over the years and parents who were athletes may have a different recollection of sports from their “glory days”. That is why it is important to get them on board with your vision (your why), values (your what), and standards (your how) to turn them into advocates rather than obstacles (check out our free roadmap for help developing your why, what, and how). Here are some tips on how to make that happen:
- Reach out to parents: Send out an email and if possible, have a parent/caregiver meeting. This would be a great opportunity to explain your vision and the standards that the team has created. Getting them on board early in the session will lead to less hassle later in the season.
- Create an opportunity for parents to understand your message: You can set have regular in-person touch points or a weekly email. Giving parents and caregivers tools and information about your program may help squash issues.
- Realize you can’t please everyone: You are human, and you are not going to please everyone. If player safety is an issue, use school resources to help address this behavior.
As you begin your season, remember to spread your message out to caregivers to ensure your players are following your visions instead of breaking bones. ~ Dr. Deirdre R.