Coaches can be a positive and encouraging influence on a teenager’s life. They teach sports fundamentals, commitment, teamwork and determination. When your child ends up with a bad coach who is offensive, a bully or indifferent, it may be necessary to intervene.
Speak to the Coach
When dealing with a bad coach, it is important to teach your teen to respect the position of authority that his coach holds, even if it is not possible to respect the person. Parents can demonstrate that respect by not criticizing the coach in front of their child or his teammates. Learning to bite your tongue when you are frustrated or disagree is a necessary life skill that can be difficult to master. Ask for a private meeting with the coach where you can gently convey your concerns about his behavior or attitude. Say “I am concerned that your screaming during practice is hurting my child’s self-confidence.” Communicate that you share the same agenda -- helping your child become a better athlete.
Hold a Parent Meeting
Parents who find that meeting one on one with the coach is ineffective can arrange to have a meeting with the parents of other players on the team to find out if they are struggling with the same issues. Keep the meeting focused on the ideals that you are looking for in a coach instead of calling him names or criticizing his character. Ask the other parents about their teens' personal experiences with the coach along with their overall perception of his coaching style. Parents should encourage their teen to be specific when describing bullying, abuse or slackness on the part of the coach. Always give your teen a heads up when you are planning on meeting with his coach.
Go Above the Coach
Sports programs tend to be a large part of a school’s image and community involvement. If your coach is not approachable or does not respond to your concerns, do not hesitate to go over his head when it comes to the well-being of your child. Often, a united appeal of parents, players and concerned community members can have an effective impact on the school’s decision-making. School employees, such as the principal, athletic director or district superintendent, hold the power to make changes when it comes to coaching staff.
Focus on the Positive
A bad coach can cause teenagers to want to quit a sport completely. Throughout the entire season, parents can continue to focus on the positive aspects of the sport in spite of poor coaching. Watch professional or college-level sporting events together, work on individual skills with a private trainer or switch to a travel team if one is available in your area. Putting your teen’s emotional and physical health first will give him the support he needs during a difficult time.