Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Meeting with Parents

Posted by admin September - 6 - 2018 - Thursday

One of the big issues that coaches have to deal with is parent conferences. It is important to have a policy in place as to how/where/when you will meet with parents and then… communicate it. I have recently seen some HC’s “jumped” by irate dads after a game— right on the field! This should not happen. There is a way to control this situation but you have to be proactive.
Most every coach has a preseason parent meeting these days. It is important to present your guidelines for how you’re going to conduct your program. If you need a format, check my book. My Player/Parent Policy Sheet is listed in there. Anything from how you will deal with injured players attending practice to how a player letters should be covered. But, let’s focus on parent meetings.

It is important to keep an open door policy when it comes to dealing with parents. You need to let them that you want to help them; that their son’s well-being is important to you. Once you establish this, you must also let them know that if they want to meet that there is a time and place to do it.

You will not meet after a game or practice. Your mind is on other things and you can’t focus on their concern. After a game is also an emotional time and it’s best not to discuss things of a personal nature then. This is all in the spirit of wanting to help. So ask for their cooperation. Then…. if you are “jumped” after a game, for example, you can say, “Mr. Jones. According to our team policies, which I know you are aware of, I will not hold conferences with parents after games. If you would like to talk with me about your son, please call the school on Monday morning. We can talk when I can get to a phone or you can make an appointment to come in. Thank you. I’ve got to get into the locker room now.” And… WALK AWAY! Don’t get drawn into a heated situation where you may say something that you will regret later.

If you don’t have a stated policy about parent meetings. then tell the parent that this is not a good time to talk. “Sir, please call and make an appointment on Monday.” And, again… walk away.

OK… so they make an appointment the right way and you’re there in your office. How do you conduct yourself? There are 2 guidelines that you need to enforce: 1- we will discuss this calmly and 2- you will not discuss another player with these parents.

1- Things can get out of hand quickly if you allow the parent to become emotional. A raised voice or cursing are warning signs that emotions are getting high. You MUST remember that you are in charge of this meeting and you set the ground rules! If things get out of hand, you can give ONE warning. After that, the meeting ends and you ask them to leave. Do NOT meet with parents when you are alone. Have an assistant coach sitting outside or if you’re in school, know that there’s someone available if you call for support.

2- Parents are usually upset with a) the amount of playing time/starting their son is getting (or not getting!) or b) why is Johnny Jones playing and my son isn’t?! That’s where you draw the line. Again, firmly but politely, you state, “Mr. Smith, I do not discuss other parent’s children with you. You would not want me to do that with another player’s parents… so I am will not discuss it here.”

What you can tell the parents is what their son can do to improve his chances of getting more playing time. Share with them specific things that he needs to work on. There’s nothing wrong with saying that. Try to keep it in a positive vein.

I always tried to be positive but honest. Most parents have an overblown view of their son’s talent level. I would tell them something like, “Yes, your son has the potential to play college football. In my opinion, though, I don’t think you can expect a Power 5 conference school to offer him a scholarship. If he wants to play Div. 2 or 3, I can contact coaches on his behalf and see where that goes.”

You’re going to occasionally get that dad who played a little high school ball and has coached Rec League… and he listens to sports talk radio, so he knows a LOT more than you do about coaching football. I would sit there and listen but would conclude by reminding them that “the principal hired ME to coach this football team. I appreciate your input but I need you to understand that I am the coach and you are the parents. Please encourage your son to work hard and have a great attitude. Those are important attributes that we can work on together.” I don’t agree nor do I disagree. I thank them for their time and tell them that I have another appointment. The meeting is concluded.

The KEY here is: you are in charge and you have to control things… including your own temper! Be cooperative; be understanding but… don’t be a push-over.

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