16 Rules Parents Should Follow

As both a coach and a father, I want to offer my 16 rules for basketball parents.

  1. Parents?you must embrace the fact that this is your child's journey?not yours. Don't live vicariously through them. Focus on being a supportive and encouraging parent.
  2. Yes, it's true?coaches do play favorites. They favor players who give the team the best chance to win, who have great attitudes, who work hard every day, who embrace their role (regardless of what that role is), and who support the program's culture. If you think a coach doesn't like your child; your child is more than likely deficient in one (or more) of these areas.
  3. Remember, coaches want to win. They want to win badly. If your child will help them win?they'll play. If not?they won't. Period.
  4. More often than not, your child's coach is in a better position to evaluate and determine appropriate playing time because he sees everything. The coach is there for workouts, practices, meetings, film breakdown and games (whereas most parents get an incomplete picture because they only see games).
  5. More often than not, through both experience and professional development, coaches usually have a better basketball IQ and general understanding of the game than parents do. So questioning a coach's "X's & O's" or their ability to judge talent is inappropriate.
  6. Stop coaching your child from the sideline. The only voice a player should receive instruction from is the their coaching staff. Cheer for them all you want, but don't coach them. That's not your job.
  7. You love your child more than anything in the world, you always want what's best for them, however, a coach's obligation is to do what is best for the team. What you want for your child may not always be what's best for the team.
  8. Never discuss playing time, strategy or another player with your child's coach. Ever.
  9. Politics will not get your child more playing time. I promise you, this statement has never been said by a coach in the history of high school basketball: "I really need to start playing Jeffrey more because his mom thinks he isn't playing enough."
  10. Encourage your child to communicate any issues, questions or concerns they have with their coach by having them schedule a meeting. I believe that as a parent, you have the right to attend that meeting, but only as an observer. The discussion should be between your child and the coach.
  11. Don't undermine or criticize the coach in the car ride home or at the dinner table. Subtle, passive aggressive comments like "your coach doesn't know what he's doing," or "I can't believe you don't play more" won't comfort your child. This can cause your son or daughter to have a bad attitude or to make excuses?both of which are unacceptable.
  12. If your child isn't getting the playing time he feels he deserves, or if he loses a tough game?use that experience as a powerful teaching tool. Teach him how to own it. Teach him what he can do in the future to get a better outcome.
  13. Don't berate the referees. This sets a bad example and makes you look foolish. The referees are doing the best they can. More often than not, a referee has a better position and a much better understanding of the rules than a parent does.
  14. Realize that it's highly unlikely that your child will play professionally. In fact, statistically, only a very small percentage of you will have children that play in college. So let them enjoy their journey. Their playing days will be over before you know it. Use basketball as a vehicle to teach the life lessons they'll need when they grow up.
  15. Don't push your child too hard. It's OK to encourage. It's OK to suggest. It's OK to hold your child to a very high standard of excellence, but don't force your child to shoot too many extra shots or do extra workouts. The desire to work hard has to come from the child, not from you.
  16. One of the best things you can do is develop a quality relationship with your child's coach. Listen to this podcast for some sound advice.

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