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Parents

Oct 4, 2018
1,649
113
Bottom line is this: Is it possible to coach the team and be friends with all the parents at the same time?

We use stats and our observations, along with the girls' desires and goals to help us set the lineup. We are developing players and we play to win, and positions are earned. We very rarely play a set lineup an entire game, as we know girls want chances at other positions and have earned those chances with their hard work and effort. We coaches are unanimous in our decisions and it seems relatively straight-forward to us.

But we hear the chatter from the bleachers about "why are they doing this?" and "why are they playing her there?" and so on and so forth. It's causing contention.

Any thoughts or advice? Is that just how this goes? We're 10U, and are told by other coaches we talk to that this does settle down as parents get more familiar with the game.
 
Last edited:
May 29, 2015
1,927
113
No, unicorns are not real. :)

Just like parents feel that yelling at umpires is part of the game and a job requirement, so also is questioning the coach and gossiping behind his back while never actually asking a question or addressing anything.

Yes, there is truth to the “settling down as the kids get older” (for both parents and coaches). You will always have a few rotten apples all the way through, but most people learn the game and learn the culture as they are around it more.

If this is a group you would like to try to keep together as long as possible, control the culture and set the tone. Don’t be afraid to have a parents meeting with everybody and explain your expectations and set the expectations they should have. In fact, I would encourage you to have regular parents’ meetings to make them feel more a part of the team. Give them duties and tasks to engage them as part of the team during the season (and maybe during the off season if you have team functions then).

This next bit of advice may sound odd ... do NOT meet with any parent individually unless it is absolutely necessary (e.g., they exhibited poor behavior or their is a serious concern with their child). Always meet with parents in groups when addressing issues (preferably as a whole team, but that can’t always happen). Then there is no ammunition for “You aren’t going to believe what he said to me ...”
 
Last edited:
Dec 15, 2018
190
43
CT
Bottom line is this: Is it possible to coach the team and be friends with all the parents at the same time?

We use stats and our observations, along with the girls' desires and goals to help us set the lineup. We are developing players and we play to win, and positions are earned. We very rarely play a set lineup an entire game, as we know girls want chances at other positions and have earned those chances with their hard work and effort. We coaches are unanimous in our decisions and it seems relatively straight-forward to us.

But we hear the chatter from the bleachers about "why are they doing this?" and "why are they playing her there?" and so on and so forth. It's causing contention.

Any thoughts or advice? Is that just how this goes? We're 10U, and feel are told by other coaches we talk to that this does settle down as parents get more familiar with the game.
10u here also. We’ve been really lucky so far...same core group of girls and parents for the last four seasons, we’ve had success improving every year, and now starting to really play at a decent level (just won our state tournament!). But it’s precisely because we are friends with all the parents that this will be our last year coaching, handing them off this fall for 12u.

There will be playing time and position decisions we feel will get tougher next year (my DD and the other AC’s DD are our two current catchers, but the current 12u catcher is not moving up, as just one example). The coaches they will be getting are great and we trust them to take what we’re giving them and keep it going.

As much as I love coaching this group, we all agreed we’d rather stay friends. So I guess my answer to your question is, yes to a point, but at some point something is bound to break.
 
Jul 16, 2013
3,820
113
Pennsylvania
A few observations...

1) From my experience, this will totally depend on what age level you are at. At the younger ages, some parents seem much more uptight about team hierarchy. Somehow, if the player is not starting every game, they see this as either a reflection on them as a parent, or there must be unfair treatment happening. As the players age, this seems to start working it's way out. At least that was my experience. Sometimes it never changes...
2) Some parents are absolutely clueless when it comes to sports. That's why they are not coaches ;). I remember one parent in 12u rec ball that was upset about how I scored a certain play. The player was asked to perform a sacrifice bunt. The 3b threw it over the 1b head and the right fielder wasn't paying attention. When she finally made it to the ball, she overthrew her cutoff. The parent was livid that I did not score this as a homerun...
3) As far as the being friends thing... There are different schools of thought about this. Some coaches feel they need to keep their distance in order to be more "professional". Theory being that if they give the impression that they are closer to one family than they are another, preferential treatment may result. On the other hand, some try to be everyone's friend. My preference has always been to be someplace in the middle. I have always been "friendly" to all the parents. The teams I coached for typically had cookouts during tournaments, and team parties at the end of the year. We typically all stayed in the same hotels when we traveled and would often have some beers together. Even though our team is not playing this summer, several of us are still in touch with each other and plan to get together once in a while.
 
May 17, 2012
2,035
63
Bottom line is this: Is it possible to coach the team and be friends with all the parents at the same time?
No. Be friendly to them but don't be friends with them during the softball season.

Parents are emotional creatures when their daughters are involved. You applying reason and logic to their emotions is never going to work (unless you win the majority of the games are are national champions).

I have found it best to just separate myself from parents and let the assistants act as a go between. Don't be rude or avoid them but don't hang out at team dinners and after games with them.
 
Jun 12, 2015
3,848
83
But we hear the chatter from the bleachers about "why are they doing this?" and "why are they playing her there?" and so on and so forth. It's causing contention.

Any thoughts or advice?
Some parents are great. Some are not, and if you get one that's toxic enough they can poison an entire team. A lot of the time it's that one parent that likes to stir things up. They often have a bottom-half player they think deserves more playing time. Misery loves company so they'll befriend a couple of others, usually also ones who just can't understand why their always-late child with a bad attitude is sitting more than the ones who show up early and work hard. "Gosh, Bob, why is little Sally sitting so much today? I noticed he moved her down the lineup too." Maybe Bob felt ok about things until the pot stirrer planted ideas, or maybe he was kind of thinking thing same thing, but now they have each other. And so it spreads.

If you are at all able to track down the main instigator, cut them. Cut them and pick up players, or cut them and lose more games. Either way your team will be a happier place.
 
Oct 14, 2016
43
18
I have a meeting at the beginning of every season with my parents. And I have been blessed with some great parents. I let them know that I am not going to tell them how to parent, and I don't expect them to agree with every coaching decision. I base my decisions on many factors.

I then describe a situation where we have a runner at second, I call for a fake-bunt steal and the pitcher releases the ball, catcher makes a nice catch and throws my runner out by two steps. The next pitch, the batter hits a double into the gap. Next batter strikes out, ends the inning and the game, we lose by one. Right now, I am a fool for trying to steal third, when I could have a run now. And I lost the game.

I then describe a situation where we have a runner at second, I call for a fake-bunt steal and the pitcher releases the ball, the catcher makes a nice catch and sails the ball into the outfield. Runner from second scores. Batter strikes out on the next two pitches. We go into extra innings and pull off the win. I am a genius for that play call.

Same situation, two different outcomes. When parents judge, they have the start, the middle, and the result to use to pass judgement. When we make a decision, we have the beginning, what we hope will happen, and the trust in the athlete we are using. I try to remind my parents of that.

Yes, you can be friends with your parents and coach. Just don't expect they will be happy with you every day. They can be unhappy and still be your friend. A season is a long time, don't stress over "chirping in the stands" on a particular game.
 
Apr 28, 2019
1,236
83
Bottom line is this: Is it possible to coach the team and be friends with all the parents at the same time?

We use stats and our observations, along with the girls' desires and goals to help us set the lineup. We are developing players and we play to win, and positions are earned. We very rarely play a set lineup an entire game, as we know girls want chances at other positions and have earned those chances with their hard work and effort. We coaches are unanimous in our decisions and it seems relatively straight-forward to us.

But we hear the chatter from the bleachers about "why are they doing this?" and "why are they playing her there?" and so on and so forth. It's causing contention.

Any thoughts or advice? Is that just how this goes? We're 10U, and are told by other coaches we talk to that this does settle down as parents get more familiar with the game.
It’s a no win situation. You have to have thick skin to be a good coach.
You can’t keep everybody happy 100% of the time. It’s human nature we’re never satisfied with status quo always want more/better.
Don’t drive yourself crazy. Do what you know is right and then explain why you did what you did if someone asks.
If you explain moves as you go along you will encounter less blow back.
People may not agree with some decisions but at least they will know your thought process and understand it was well intended.
My TB DD plays on a very good 18U team that is run very well. The players know what is expected of them. If they don’t produce they sit.
We are supplementing with a 14U team based on not enough tournaments. The 14U team is run by two younger ladies in their early mid twenties. The coaches are constantly asking parents for input and the parents still bitch-up a storm during games.
The coaches even let team captains which rotate every week set the starting roster. Needless to say this team is underperforming. They all get along great but don’t push each other to improve. My daughter starts every game and plays every inning so I don’t really care. She is getting game experience and having a blast. There are a few crazy dads that like to yell at their daughters through the entire game. They mean we’ll just don’t know squat.
 

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