Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Gotta Love Those Experts!

Posted by admin November - 15 - 2011 - Tuesday

I had a coach email me to ask: “how do I keep parents/fans off my tail?! They want to complain about our antique offense (the Wing T!) and that we don’t throw enough… after every game. What do I do?!”

The key in that whole statement is: after the game. No coach wants to be hounded after a game. This is HS not college nor pro’s. The HC doesn’t have to meet the press and be grilled by them like a D1 coach has to. A HS coach wants to talk with his team for a couple of minutes after the game and then get a hug from his family and head into the locker room. He doesn’t need to be badgered by all of the experts who know more than he does about coaching HS football— who want to explain how he messed up and when is he going to change things!

My first statement is: clear it with your administration but… set a team policy that you will only meet with parents during the week and… make an appointment. You will not discuss the game with anyone that night. If someone tries to bring it up, you politely tell them that “our team policies do not allow us to discuss this now. Please call on Monday and make an appointment.” This should be laid out clearly in your pre-season Parent/Player Orientation meeting. *If you want more on player policies, I would encourage you to purchase a copy of my book.

Once a policy has been set, if a parent tries to supercede it, you merely stop them and politely… remind them and say “good night.”

I think it’s important to establish lines of communication and keep them open with parents, administrators and players. Don’t develop a “bunker mentality” where you build a wall and don’t allow any communication. Let parents know the parameters of what CAN be discussed and what is off limits. For instance, I’ve had coaches tell me that one of their policies is: we will not discuss playing time for your son. We can talk about HOW he can improve himself but discussing WHY Johnny is starting ahead of your Billy is off limits.

All of this requires that you be assertive but NOT aggressive. You can be polite with parents/fans without having to resort to being ugly. If the parent/fan wants to get aggressive; i.e., ugly, tell them that this conversation is now over and if you would like to discuss it further… call my AD! and then let the AD know what you told that parent so he doesn’t get ambushed.

I heard it said that if a parent wants to critique your coaching… then ask him if you can visit him at his workplace so you can observe his work skills and techniques. Then, you’ll wait for him outside as he heads for his car to go home and you will proceed to list all the things that YOU think he can do better! I’m not sure if that falls under the catagory of being “polite” but it sure sounds good! I’ve never had the guts to say it to anyone’s face— but I’ve sure wanted to!

The key is to build a rapport between you and your parents. Let them know that you are not perfect but… you are going to treat their kids the right way. Ask for their support. Let them know that we are a football family and that we have to stick together. If someone criticized how they have reared their son, you’re going to defend them. Would they please support you if they hear any negativism about your coaching. We’re all in this together!

I hope this gives you some help in a very important but sensitive area. Again: communication is the key to establishing good relationships— in any organization.

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