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Short-Circuiting Parental Complaints

While parents are an important piece of a successful athletic department, overly involved parents can be a headache when it comes to their children's playing time. Many of their complaints can be avoided by having coaches develop strategies to deal with them before a problem arises, as detailed by high school baseball coaches in a recent issue of our sister publication, Coaching Management.

“If I get the feeling that a parent might give me a hard time about their son being on the bench, I’ll have them present when I talk with that player about his role,” says Marc Wiese, Head Baseball Coach at Puyallup (Wash.) High School. “This way, they know where things stand right away, and they can ask any questions they have for me.”

Tim McDonald, Head Baseball Coach at Bay City Western High School in Auburn, Mich., says letting parents know exactly how evaluations of their children are made can be helpful. “I’ll frequently get e-mails from parents with stats and video from their kid’s summer league or travel team games,” he says. “I tell them, ‘Regardless of how he played in the summer, I have to evaluate him based on what my staff and I see during the school year.’”

If the parents don’t trust the coach’s judgment, Mike Bedics, Head Baseball Coach at Notre Dame High School in Easton, Pa., suggests providing an inside look. “I invite parents to our practices,” he says. “That often shows them another side of things, where they can see their son and the starter together, which usually illustrates what their son needs to do to earn more playing time.”

When parents just won’t listen to him, McDonald lets someone else do the talking. “My players fill out a pre-season questionnaire listing their strengths and weaknesses, and they’re usually honest about their shortcomings,” he says. “If a parent comes to me with a playing time complaint, I can often show them that their son agrees with my decision, which makes it harder for a parent to say I’m being unfair.”

Read the full Coaching Management article on working with bench players here.

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