Coaching Association of Canada

The Parent Playbook

Four coaches join forces to offer 7 tips to turn mom and dad from sideline snipers into team players.

*The following is an excerpt from a previous Coaches plan article. Click here to read the full version. 

  1. Establish a conflict resolution protocol

    “Utilize a team ombudsperson – a parent who, by virtue of his or her profession, has superior conflict resolution skills and can play the role of neutral third party. Require parents with concerns to speak with the ombudsperson first. If the issue isn’t resolved, invite the parent to a face-to-face meeting – but never a one-on-one.” – Wayne Parro, ChPC, Baseball

  2. Hold a pre-season parent meeting

    “It’s the time to introduce yourself, talk about your values, share (realistic) goals for the season, outline your expectations of parents and players, and cover the protocol for dealing with issues. Ask parents to introduce themselves and share their expectations. And invite parents to schedule separate meetings with you to discuss their child’s progress or alert you to any special needs.” – Ian Kennedy, Hockey

  3. Put yourself in the parent’s shoes

    “One of the main reasons for a parent to act out is a disparity between their expectations and the performance or perceived performance of the child. Acknowledge the parent’s concerns, have a carefully considered reason for the child’s performance, and offer solutions.” – Ian Kennedy, Hockey

  4. Align yourself with the higher ups

    “Your sport organization or association has already done a lot of the work for you, at least in terms of identifying an overall purpose, philosophy, and goals. Always check that your personal approach is in line with the organization’s to make sure there’s consistency in messaging and no question that the organization will back you up in case of conflict.” – Wayne Parro, ChPC, Baseball

  5. Develop the parents as well as the kids

    “We’re telling parents that they need to do a better job, but we’re not giving them the tools to do it. It’s the coach’s job to give parents the big picture. What’s a parent’s role when the child is eight years old, or 12 or 15? How results-focused should parents be? How should they talk to their children about what happened in a game? What important lessons can be learned from failure?” – Séverine Tamborero, Tennis

  6. Put parents on the team

    “Disruptive parents may be looking for more control or greater influence, so redirect that energy by giving them a job to do, whether it’s fundraising, scorekeeping, being the team trainer, or washing jerseys. Spread the workload. If you have a timekeeper coordinator, that’s one job. But every parent should contribute to being a timekeeper at some point during the season.” – Ian Kennedy, Hockey

  7. Put it in writing

    “Any meeting you have, whether it seems insignificant or inconsequential, make a note of it and send it to the parent and to the organization so they have a heads-up. At the parent meeting we talk about our goals, what we want to accomplish this year, how we want to handle situations, and then we have the players and the parents sign the contract.” – Autumn Mills, Baseball