Coach's Guide: Dealing with Parental Behavior During Games

Unfortunately, there are more and more reports of parents exhibiting poor sportsmanship at kids’ games. Whether it’s verbally abusing officials, or taunting other players, or even trying to coach players from the stands, there are times in which the coach has to intervene.

This is not what you signed up for. Most youth coaches feel they signed up to coach the kids — not police the parents. But if it becomes clear that a parent is becoming too much of an interference during a game, you’re going to have to go over to the Mom or Dad in question and, as gently but firmly as possible, tell them to tone down their act. If you want, you can bring along an assistant coach to help calm the situation.

If the unsportsmanlike behavior becomes worse, you can ask the referee to stop the game until the offensive parent is removed from the stands. This kind of “zero tolerance” is becoming popular in youth leagues. In effect, it gives the referees the power to stop a game and call for a parent’s immediate removal; otherwise, the game is forfeited to the other team. This sounds harsh, but it works quite well.

COACHING TIP

Be Appreciative of the Parents

Most parents provide positive support to their kids as they participate on the team. From rides to games and practices to words of encouragement from the stands, a player’s parents are their most important asset. Keep parents engaged and make sure they see how important the support is. A happy parent makes for a happy player and vice versa.

Have The Parents Watch Your Player’s Nutrition

Coaches should encourage the parents of their players to provide nutritional guidance. Your players should eat well and eat smart during the week so they have lots of energy for the games. Spaghetti and meatballs, chicken and rice and other kinds of complex carbohydrates will serve your players and their energy needs well.

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