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A Basketball Coaching Guide - How to Work with Parents the "Right Way" and Avoid Unpleasant Problems

- By

As a coach, working with parents just comes with the territory. But, handling overzealous parents is never fun. And you know what we're talking about here. These are the parents who show up at practice demanding to know why their son or daughter isn't getting more playing time. Or, the ones that come up to you at halftime to let you know the combinations you used during the first half aren't working, and they had some ideas that might win the game during the second half if you wanted to hear them.

You know, those parents.

Although working with these parents is never going to be our favorite thing, it is something that we have to learn to get better at. The good news is that there are steps you can take to cut down on the number of unpleasant instances during a season.

These steps and tips can help you not only retain your authority and credibility as basketball coach, but help improve communication between you, your players, and their parents. And open communication is the most important tool you have when it comes to working with parents.

The Details Depend on Your Situation

Below you will find excellent strategies to prevent parent problems and actually get parents on your side.

However, the exact details of your strategies will depend on the age of your players, the type of league you are in, and your coaching philosophy.

For example, a youth team that allows for equal playing time will use a completely different parent letter than a high school varsity team that is expected to win. So choose the tips below that apply to your situation.

And although this report teaches how to handle difficult parents, it's important to realize that you can't, and shouldn't try, to please everyone. It's vital that you stand up for what you believe in and stay true to the coaching techniques you think work best. After all, you're the coach, not the parents.

So, let's jump in and learn how to make our coaching season go a bit smoother!


20 Surefire Strategies to Work with Difficult Parents (And Avoid Problems Before They Arise)

1. Have a Parent Meeting Before the Season Starts

You can nip a lot of problems in the bud simply by meeting with parents at the start of the season. Get to know them, and spend some time talking about your past coaching experience and how you're going to manage this season. Make sure you go over what you expect from players, and what kind of practice schedule you're going to keep.

What else should you bring up in the pre-season meeting?

  • What you expect from the parents . They need to understand that they have the responsibility to get their child to practice on time, that their child will need equipment to play (like shoes, uniform, etc.), that they need to support their child by attending games, praising their hard work, etc. Make them understand that they're part of the team, too.

  • Review your guidelines for playing time. If you make sure all the kids get equal minutes, let the parents know. If you base playing time on attendance, work ethic, off season participation, skill level, or anything of those things, let the parents know. Lay down the law now and avoid issues in the future.

  • Go over your school's athletic department policy. If there are any fees or rules parents need to know about, now is the time to go over them. As an example, player eligibility is an important topic to cover.

  • Go over your own rules and expectations. What are your rules about being late to practice or missing practice? What are your rules about communication? Do you require players to always approach you with issues before the parents? Do you allow parents to talk with you before or after games? Go over all these things so parents know what to expect.

  • Make it clear you can't drop off players. You're the coach, not the carpool service. Make sure parents understand that they must be there to pick their kids up after practice. Dropping off your players isn't part of your job.

  • Set guidelines for game days. Make sure parents understand that you expect them to behave on game days. This means positive cheering, not putting down other players, no yelling at the refs, and no criticizing you or other coaches. And, put your foot down about "sideline coaching" from parents. This only confuses their child. Some coaches even create a "parent code of conduct", that lists rules for how parents should conduct themselves through the season.

  • Review the key points of your documents. You'll want to review the key points of your player handbook and parent letter. You might even want to read it to them. The point is that you want to be sure each parent has been exposed to your rules more than once. (Samples of player handbooks and parent letters can be found below.)

  • Review your team goals, priorities, and philosophy. If your goals are to focus on your player's basketball development and personal development, then tell the parents. Explain what this means. Tell them about the fundamentals required to improve players in the long run. Tell them you are trying to teach honesty, work ethic, teamwork, and things that will help your kids be successful in the future and at the most important game of all - the game of life. What are your priorities as a coach? What are your priorities for the team?

2. Explain Your Coaching Philosophy

Parents and players both need to understand that playing time isn't a right, it's a privilege. So make sure this is clearly explained in the pre-season meeting with parents. Lay out exactly how you dole out playing time. Yes, it's probably going to go to the hardest workers, but what do players really have to do to earn playing time? What do they have to know? Spell it out so that there's no confusion.

If you coach a youth team and playing time is equal, parents need to know that. If not, you'll get parents that think their kids should be playing more than others (so they can win the game).

Coach Koran Godwin, of www.JumpStartHoops.com and author of "Everyone Hates a Ball Hog but They All Love a Scorer", says that it's important to tell parents how much you truly love all the kids on the team. Emphasize that the lessons you'll be teaching them over the next few months will not only develop them as players, but as men and women. Bringing this up will help them remember that the biggest benefit of the sport isn't about winning or playing time, it's about personal development.

It's also important to explain how you feel about things like sportsmanship, honesty, and ethical behavior. These values are important in sports, and parents should know that you'll be on the lookout for these things in their kids.

It's critically important for parents to understand your philosophy. This will eliminate countless problems down the road.

3. Require Players to Talk With You First

It's important to explain that if someone has a problem with their lack of playing time, the player, not the parent, should talk with you first. In the real world, people must know how to communicate. And, this is a skill your players have to learn on the team.

This should be a rule that you explain during your first parent meeting, put it in your handbook, and remind parents during the year.

Parents and players also need to know that you're going to be treating their kids like young men and women. Many younger players are used to having their parents "take care of things" for them (like calling the coach to get them more playing time!). Again, however, you need to make it clear that players need to speak with you first about any issues they have. If a player feels they deserve more playing time, then they should bring it up with you.

4. Create A Player Handbook

If your school or sports program doesn't have any kind of player handbook created, then you need to make one before the season starts. The handbook needs to explain the rules of behavior, punishments, scheduling, and practices times. It also needs to detail game day expectations. For instance, will your players be required to dress up for travel to and from games? Will travel with the team on the bus to and from games be mandatory?

The more players and parents know about what you expect, the fewer problems you'll have later on. See the next tip for some sample handbooks.

5. Create A Contract

After you create the player handbook, you need to create a contract for players and parents to sign. The contract will say that the players and their parents have read through the handbook, and promise to abide by the rules you've laid out.

Here are links to a few sample contracts and player handbooks for you to take a look at. You can use these contracts as examples and then change them to fit the needs of your athletic program.

www.breakthroughbasketball.com/coaching/mustangtryoutpacket.pdf (Provided by Shane Matzen of www.mustangroundball.com)

www.mahoopsters.org/mahpages/info/pdf/mahhandbook.pdf

6. The Coaches Constitution

Coach Koran Godwin has an interesting way to handle these issues in the pre-season. Some of these suggestions have already been mentioned in this report, but I think he has a very interesting approach to attack the problem. Here's how it works in his own words:

In the pre-season every parent is happy. Their son just made the high school team and no one (including the kids) knows who is going to get the bulk of the playing time. This is the perfect time to let the parents and players know your philosophy and guidelines.

a. My number one goal was to show the parents that I love each and every one of the kids the same and that playing time has nothing to do with my personal views on a kid. I emphasize my will to develop them as young men and the lessons that they will learn over the next few months will prepare them for life.

b. After I dispel the myth that coach just doesn't like or care about my son, I give the parent the Law of the land. "Do not call me about any playing time issues unless your kid talks to me first!" I explain to the parents that in order to prepare these kids for the future, the player has to be willing to communicate with adults and ask what they can do to earn more playing time. As parents they only see 10% of what their kid is doing. The 90% is in practice where John has to compete for playing time everyday. He knows exactly why Larry is getting more playing time than him but he doesn't want to tell his parents he isn't working as hard.

c. I tell players that I am going to treat them like young men and allow them to compete for playing time. If at any point in the season they feel that they deserve more, please approach me after practice and state your case. The player knows that once he states his case, the spotlight is now on him to perform and compete with the person in front of them. This method is especially effective for those kids who are used to having their parents get things done for them.

d. The coaches' constitution fosters an environment of accountability and responsibility. I let the parents know that growth in these two areas will help mature their kids into productive members of society. I have had many conversations with kids over the years that have thanked me for giving them a platform to compete and mature as men.


7. Send a Parent Letter

You should write up a good parent letter (or maybe even contract) and send it to everyone. Not only can this prevent problems down the road, but this can also be a powerful tool that you can refer to when parents start complaining. The important thing is to document the proper things and give them to the parents so you can refer to the guidelines at a later date.

Here are a few good sample letters for you to consider:

Positivecoach.org/uploadedFiles/Free_Tips_and_Tools/Coaches_Tools/ParentLetter.pdf

www.positivecoach.org/ConPics/Con79/parent_pledge.pdf

http://www.qcbaseball.com/tools/Parentletter1.aspx

8. Implement the Value Point System

For experienced and more competitive teams (NOT early youth teams), one of the best ways to get parents to stop complaining about playing time is the implement the Value Point System. It's a simple statistical system used in conjunction with simple coaching tactics and practice drills to improve player performance.

The system is a coach's dream because it puts an end to disagreements about playing time. If someone does not agree with your decisions, simply show them the player's rating.

The players will all know why they are not getting playing time. If parents don't like the amount of time their child is getting, just tell them, "All your son or daughter needs to do is raise their VPS score. Here it is right here. If he/she does, then I'll find them minutes."

To learn more about the system check out this link:

http://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/pr/value-point-system.html

9. Know Your System

Before you start your first practice make sure you clearly understand the rules and policies that are in place in your school district and athletic department. How do they enforce school policy and behavioral problems? Do any of the rules/procedures you have in your handbook conflict with school district or athletic department rules?

You need to have complete support from the administration if you're going to be handling parental complaints. If a parent goes go over your head, then your administration needs to refer them right back to you.

10. Let Parents Watch Practice

Now this might sound like a recipe for disaster, but it's not. Letting interested parents watch practice time will enable them to see how you run the show, how players behave, how you critique, and how you make decisions about who gets to play and who doesn't.

Most importantly, parents will begin to "buy in" to your philosophy and tactics. As we all know, a big part of coaching is selling. And while you are selling your players on your philosophy, with enough repetitions, the parents will get sold on your philosophies and on you as a coach. Sometimes they just need to get to know you, understand you, and learn about your program. Letting them watch your practices is a great way to do that.

If you let them watch, however, make sure they understand that they have to be quiet.

11. Sell Your System

You want to know who your biggest fans are? Your players. If they trust you and believe in what you're doing, then they're going to defend you against their over-zealous parents. So, make sure your players understand why you're doing things the way you are. Sell your system to them, and they'll sell it to their parents.

12. Get Tough On Complaints

Coach Don Kelbick, of www.donkelbickbasketball.com, has been coaching for over 20 years. He says that it's vital coaches lay down the law.

Although it's important to listen to what parents have to say, it's also important to stand up for what you're doing. Remember, you're the coach. If parents don't like what you're doing, then they can put their child in another school system to play under another coach.

Sound extreme? Well, sometimes giving parents a dose of reality can help bring them back down to earth.

13. Promote the Family Atmosphere

Many coaches try to promote a family atmosphere during games. If you want to, and you can pull it off, it could very well endear you to many of the parents. So, let them attend practice, and create a special section for them to sit in during games. This extra effort on your part might go much further than you think.

14. Find Opportunities and Playing Time for the Second Team

If you're in a situation where you are not able to get everyone playing time, then you need to find opportunities for everyone. As a basketball coach, you owe it to the players on the team to get opportunities.

Find more JV games. Play a 5th quarter with the second group. Contact other coaches to arrange "2nd team" games. Arrange scrimmages.

Some kids just need an opportunity and need confidence. You'd be amazed how many players develop late and you never know who those kids will be.

If you never play these kids you are taking away their opportunity. If they bust their butts in practice, then you owe it to them to find them games! Not enough coaches make the effort needed to get all their players plenty of experience.

15. Designate A Parent Liaison

Coach Koran Godwin says that having a parent liaison is vital. Think about it; you're basically the end-all, be-all of the team. A parent can start talking to you after practice about the upcoming holiday schedule and end up screaming at you because their kid isn't getting enough playing time.

This is why you should assign one parent, preferably the parent of a kid who plays a lot, to be your point of contact. Any communication from parents needs to go through your liaison first. He or she filters out the fluff and then sends the rest on to you.

16. Provide Parents with Tips to Contribute

Simply offering parents some tips and guidance can improve the attitude and moral of everyone involved. All most all parents truly want to help but they don't usually know how. By educating them you can divert their energy towards things that will be positive to your program. Here's an example of some parent tips that you can offer:
www.championsofcharacter.org/d/NAIAChampionsofCharacter_TipsForParents.pdf

17. Stay Out of the Stands

Coach Godwin also recommends that you stay out of the stands during the season. After all, plenty of parents will want to talk with you before or after games. But, is this really where your attention needs to be?

Probably not. You need to be focusing on your players, not their parents. If you want to get to know your players' parents, then summer and fall leagues are the best time to do it since those are generally looser and almost everyone has a chance to play.

18. No Talking on Game Days

You should establish a rule that parents are not allowed to speak with you about playing time or any issues on "game day". Those conversations must be scheduled for another day. Emotions are too high during game time and these issues can be handled much more effectively at a different time.

So, make it a rule that you won't talk with any parents before or after games unless it's an emergency. And, it's smart to bring this up in your initial parent meeting, as well as putting it in your handbook. Remind parents the reason for this: you're there to help their children become better players.

19. Schedule A Private Meeting

If a parent comes to you and wants to start yelling on the court, absolutely insist they set up a private meeting with you the next day. It's not good for the players, and the other parents, to witness an argument. So, take it off the court. Setting up a next-day meeting will also give you time to prepare.

Before you meet with that parent, spend some time thinking about why they might be upset. Is it their child's playing time? Is there a conflict with another player? Coming up with various scenarios can help you see things from that parent's point of view.

It's also a good idea if you can get someone else (like an assistant coach or athletic director) to sit in on the meeting as well. This might help the parent be more objective, as well as providing you with another set of ears.

20. Calmly Handle Blowouts

No matter how hard you work to prevent it, there are always going to be some irate or overzealous parents to handle. It just comes with the territory of being a coach. So how can you handle the big blowouts when they happen?

First, listen. Let the parent have their say and don't interrupt them.

When it's your turn to speak, then explain your point of view slowly and clearly. And, keep your focus on their child. Don't do comparisons between their child and another player.

If the parent starts raising their voice, then resist the urge to match their tone. Keep speaking in a calm voice at normal volume. And, try to keep your comments on the positive end.

You can even offer to allow the parent to come to practice so they can see what is actually happening. Besides, how can the parent have an opinion unless they have been to all the practices?

At the end of the meeting, make sure you thank the parent for voicing their concerns with you, and let them know you'll take them under consideration. After the parent has left, ask the person who sat in on the meeting how they thought you did. Was there anything you could have done better or differently? Getting this honest feedback can really help you handle these challenging situations in the future.


Coaches / Resources Contributing to this Report

Here's a list of coaches and resources that have somewhere along the way contributed or given us ideas for this report.

Coach Koran Godwin - www.JumpStartHoops.com

Don Kelbick - www.breakthroughbasketball.com/aboutus.html#DonKelbick

Shane Matzen - www.mustangroundball.com

Jim McGannon - http://mybasketballbasics.com

Ronn Wyckoff - www.top-basketball-coaching.com

Positive Coaching Alliance

Ken Sartini


Please leave your comments and suggestions below...



Comments

Coach B says:
12/3/2009 at 6:43:39 AM

Dont let parents drive you out of coaching, it happened to me and I lost all focus and drive with the team and we went through a season only winning 2 games out of 22. I will be following this advice next year, and hope I can have a successful season....


Rich Goetz says:
12/3/2009 at 7:45:37 AM

Excellent, a lot of that was basic stuff, but its amazing how it can get overlooked with all the others things that are done and prepared for during the preseason. Thanks for the resource! Well done as always


Coach P says:
12/3/2009 at 7:57:44 AM

We have a new coach that doesn't know the players. He is starting players that haven't ever started, nor should be, as better, more experienced players sit on the bench ? When my player ask what do I need to do to get more playing time and be a starter again, he reply's, your doing great ? What ? She has ask several times and he doesn't have answer ? Now I'm ready to ask him myself. How would you approach this ? I coached Middle School and have AAU team and have coached for years and stress to my players to play in off season, and then they get a coach that starts girls that play one time a year ? Doesn't send good message ! I don't want to be criticle of his coaching ability, but my daughter and others may not return next year and mine has played since she was 7 and I want her to stay involved with the team spirit. Thank you.


John Reinheimer says:
12/3/2009 at 8:04:01 AM

I appreciate these articles. I've been coaching various youth sports for the past 2 years. Your articles pertain to all youth sports.


old coach says:
12/3/2009 at 8:26:44 AM

Thank you for some new ideas. I like the idea of deferral to the next day if a parent is upset, the advantages are numerous. Thanks again.


K DILLINGHAM says:
12/3/2009 at 8:54:00 AM

A lot of good advice in this section. I have also found that most kids see to carry the same attitude of their parents as far as game attitude, and the way they deal with referees. To me that situation needs to be delt with also. thanx for the info.


Coach D says:
12/3/2009 at 10:07:50 AM

Hey Coach P...
I say reverse some of the things straight out of this article! Ask this coach if he can please provide a document or verbal explanation to the parents of his overall coaching philosophy, criteria for playing time, and overall expectations on the kids. Propose a parents' meeting where he can address this to the whole team.
Have your daughter and others go back to him and ask for specific details of what they should do to become a starter, or better yet, what have they not done/done wrong to lose their spot as a starter. If they get another vague reply, then it's appropriate time for you to address the coach personally. But again, reverse the article notes... remain very calm and collective, focus on only your daughter, and be sure to do this in private and away from game days. If you get clear answers, then you can go to other parents and suggest that they do the same, or perhaps close the conversation with the coach with a suggestion that he address this with the team as a whole.


Chuck says:
12/3/2009 at 10:29:11 AM

This is so on time for me! I am having a coaches/parents meeting today and I was so unsure as to what I should say. Man, you guys are great! Thanks!


Rocky says:
12/3/2009 at 11:04:19 AM

I don't have to worry about too much - I have 8 players. The league I coach in states each will play at least 1 half except for disciplinary reasons (insufficient grades, attendance, etc).

Works pretty good except on tournament when we had to play 2 games back to back. The kids get pretty tired about 1/2 way into the second game and the other team has more players.

At any rate - thanks for the information. So far parents have not been a problem - indeed they've been very supportive but that can change from year to year. It's better to be prepared before it happens!


Coach confused says:
12/3/2009 at 11:27:36 AM

Caoch P,

I can relate to your situation. I have a similar one going on with my child.

I just told my son just to stay positive and work harder.

But it is frustrating when there can't be civil communication between parents and coaches and they have already made up thier minds and don't give the kids an equal look.


karl says:
12/3/2009 at 11:35:29 AM

Need advice from the other side. Although I''ve never been paid for coaching I played for and learned from a very successful college coach. My youth teams have been successful because of a firm belief in fundamentals and team work. These kids including my son are now on the middle school team whose coach admitted at the parent''s mtg he''s not there to emphasize fundamentals but to only work on team concepts. For the first time, these kids are practicing everyday which would give them the reps necessary to really learn skills. I have quietly watched his practices and games for years and believe he is doing these kids a disservice. His comment was that fundamentals were learned in the offseason. I happen to believe that ms coaches have to be the teachers especially for those like my son who want to play in high school. Changing schools is not an option. I do not want to be an "over-zealous parent" but want these guys to get a better foundation before high school. Advice?


Coach confused says:
12/3/2009 at 11:41:25 AM

Coach D,

I did just that I was told by my son that the coach told the teams that some of you have been talking with your parents and that he does not want anything repeated and does not want the parents coming up to the school or calling him about your positions or which team you are on.

Nice huh.....Keep in mind this is middle school.

I don't want to put any further pressure on my son, or black ball him with the coaches.


Rocky says:
12/3/2009 at 4:59:57 PM

Karl,

If you're watching the practices, ask the coach for a time to visit apart from practice. Let him know that you appreciate the work on teamwork, which is important as Basketball is a team sport - but that you feel that teaching fundamentals is important too and that you're willing to work with the team as a volunteer on a portion of the practices to teach solid fundamentals. That way you're not a "nagging parent" - you're offering your view and a possible solution.

Just a thought...

Rocky


Wayne says:
12/3/2009 at 5:16:35 PM

This is my first year coaching at the Jr.High level. I have had a parent come up to me and questioned why their kids wasn't getting alot of playing time. I just calmly explained that one of there kids missed a week of practice due to grades, and the other was still having trouble adjusting to the new position he was placed in because of size and speed. I explained my goals and expectations of each player and said playing time comes from practice and how well they perform in games.


mr loser says:
12/3/2009 at 10:08:59 PM

Great article with lots of practical information. We told parents of our 5th grade squad before the season that playing time would be equal (even though the league didn't require it), the players would rotate positions during the season and our goals were for players to have fun and learn b-ball fundamentals. For the team, we implemented three rules: 1) have fun, 2) TEAM and 3) r-e-s-p-e-c-t. In the middle of every practice, we have a 5-10 minute huddle/water break, where the players discusses what the rules mean, we talk about b-ball rules or discuss another topic.


Coach P says:
12/4/2009 at 9:47:41 AM

Thanks. I am having her try to ask one more time and if he doesn't respond, I will talk to him myself. I have never felt any player(s) are suppose to be a starter, but I do feel it is a coaches responsibility to inform his or her players on what they need to do or work on to gain more playing time. When you have players on the floor that are not cutting it and still want put better players in, then my opinion of you as a coach is, you aren't a true coach. Nothing wrong with having a pre determined line up, but once you put another player in and he or her is noticable better, then you make the change ! There is Rec league - and then there is School ball. Amazing what I see in both these leagues today !! ?


Joe Haefner says:
12/4/2009 at 9:57:46 AM

Coach P,

What age are these girls?


Joe Haefner says:
12/4/2009 at 10:01:49 AM

Coach P,

I've learned from John Wooden and Morgan Wootten that the 5 "Best" players don't necessarily make the best team. You need role players that do the other little things well such as rebounding, playing defense, handling the ball, etc.

I also know some coaches like to leave their 3rd and 4th best players on the bench, so they have some firepower coming off the bench.


CoachJohnny says:
12/4/2009 at 1:51:49 PM

As for discussing playing time I have told parents that we won't discuss that and we won't discuss other parents kids. I have said in a parents meeting before "if Mr. Jones thinks his kid should be playing in front of Mr. Smiths kid then Jones should go to Smith and say "my kid should be playing in front of your kid Smith". If Mr Smith says "yea Jones your right" then they came come to me and I will consider the change. Of course you know no parent is going to go to another parent because its easier to claim your son isn't playing for reasons like the coach doesn't like my son or politics.
On the subject of politics I might add this. There should be none. If coaches don't take anything from parents then coaches don't owe parents anything. I have been offered free dinners and drinks, beach front condos, lake front condo's, free tickets to major league games and I refuse everything like that so I don't owe a parent anything. I have had many parents make substanial contributions to the baseball program and I explain to them that before I accept anything they have to acknowledge that their donation is for the benefit of the baseball program and not because they think it will buy playing time or a starting position. Parents at the HS level especially make coaching very difficult but if you are honest and up front with people it helps a great deal.


coach P says:
12/4/2009 at 2:30:59 PM

High School - I agree with having some players on the bench for other reasons, but when a coach isn't using players as you stated, then I have a problem with it. As I stated, just tell your players what your doing and why and what you expect of them, this way it isn't taken personal, that isn't happening at our H.S. ? Again, I prefer to stay out of it, and will, but I want sit back with out questions and watch 1 coach tear my player down mentally with out reason. Thanks


Coach R says:
12/4/2009 at 9:05:05 PM

I also have had parent problems. I coach a 4-6th grade school basketball team, with 12 players, which in my opinion is too many. Anyway, during our first game, it was our halftime. One of the parents nicely came to me and started telling me what I ought to do. Then while I was in the huddle with my players, he started talking to them and telling them what to do. He is not even the assistant coach, I am the only coach on the team. As soon as the game is over, another parents approached me and told me that I need to spend more time with them, because they look like they don't have a clue what they are doing. Then another parent told me that I should not play any other players but the oldest most skilled. The other young non seasoned need to be benched, and that I should treat it as do professional coaches. Well my philosophy 'was' equal playing time. What if some of the younger ones are late bloomers. Anyway, my confidence in coaching my team has been shot. I no longer have the desire to coach. Because the parents have a win at all costs attitude, then infects their kids, who now don't want to learn to fundamentals in practice. All they do is whine and complain. I'm at my wits end and its only my first game. Does anyone have any advice? I'm a young first time 27yr old coach. I love working with youngs kids. But if its gonna be like this, this will be my first and last coaching season.


Coach R


Coach C says:
12/4/2009 at 10:30:39 PM

We live in a smaller school district where enrollment is dwindling. I have coached 4 years of t-ball, with 36 kids on the team the last year I coached it, I coached my 2 older daughters in basketballwhen they were in 5-8 grade, I have coached my youngest daughter for 2 years in softball and I am coaching my son''s 5th grade basketball team this year. I have coached his team since he was in 3rd grade. The first year he was in basketball, we had 9 players on the team. I am a firm believer in teaching the fundamentals at this age doing a lot of repetition in practice. Last year I had 7 kids as some of the parents did not like one of the dad''s helping me at practice and the games the previous year. The dad believes in discipline like I do, but is a bit more louder than I am. He ensures the kids are listening and paying attention during practice and doing the drills correctly. This year I had 6 players, until the one mom blew up at us, yelled at us and swore at us. It was our 4th practice, hadn''t had a game yet, and we finally had all 6 kids at the practice because the flu bug had been going around. When the mom dropped her son off for practice, she jumped all over the dad at first and then at both of us and demanded to know how much playing time her son was going to get, and that he should be playing point guard as she believed that is the most important position on the team. I informed her that all positions are equally important as this is a team sport and I didn''t know anybody''s position yet as we hadn''t had a chance to set up offensive plays yet because we hadn''t had everyone at all of the practices. She swore at me, and pulled her son and made him quit. The dad asked her as she was leaving, ''so you''re going to make your son pay the price, and not let him play now?''. She left. This is a team that is totally voluntary and not through the school. This mom happens to be the elementary/middle school secretary at the school we practice at. These kids see her every day and heard her yelling and swear at us. I forgot to mention, I am a MOM who is coaching, I am also on the school board at the school. I also went to high school with this mom. These kids have a great opportunity to learn and play because of the small number of kids and I want them to learn. Our first game is tomorrow, and we now have just 5 on the team, so I have had to ask another boy from a neighboring school to play so I have an extra player to sub in. Question--Would you mention the situation to the school principal about the parent''s behavior?


Rocky says:
12/5/2009 at 4:34:30 AM

Coach R,

You are the coach. There's nothing wrong with politely reminding parents that you are the coach and to please refrain from making any suggestions during games as they should be there to encourage from the sideline. Acknowledge that they have good intentions but during game time they are serving as a distraction and are not assisting.

Then kindly suggest that if they choose to discuss with you any concerns to please do it during non-game and non-practice times.


Jeff Haefner says:
12/5/2009 at 5:22:18 PM

Coach R,

I have two suggestions. First try to implement some of the things in this article. You might not be able to implement everything until next year, but you could still have a mid-season parents meeting and/or send a letter. Or just talk to parents individually.

Next, don't get too discouraged. Some groups are just a pain (the parents). Next year could be an incredible experience and be wonderful group. Implementing some of the tips in this article will help next year. Starting off right certainly helps. I have had years where the group of kids (and parents) were an absolute joy to work with. Just such good people and supportive. Then the next year some of the people were not very supportive. It was a frustrating year and it made me want to quit. But more times than not, we had awesome supportive parents.

Good luck!


Jeff Haefner says:
12/5/2009 at 5:25:32 PM

Coach C,

My suggestion is to do what is best for the players. Don't worry about anything else or any politics and teaching any parents lessons. Only you or someone close to the situation could know what is best for the kids. Always do whats best for the team and help as many players as you can. Make sure you consider what is best for the long term too. Good luck!


Coach P says:
12/5/2009 at 6:57:34 PM

Coach R - This article is the way to handle your parent problem. The key is setting the rules up front. Be calm, but firm. After your season is over they can choice what they want to do then, till then your in charge of building the team, not them ! I hate to break the news to you, but you will always have parent issues unless you only have 5 players on your team, sorry ! Don't give up, you sound like your in it for the right reasons, thats the only reason I still coach and have summer BB camp, the kids. Don't lose sight of that.


Eric Harvey says:
12/17/2009 at 10:53:11 PM

I coach players of high school age and have done so for over 30 years, both boys and girls. I have found that the most successful way of dealing with parents is to have a winning season. When you win, everyone is happy. Of course, losing has the revers effect and then parents start to comment among themselves and ask questions. Becoming tired of these questions, and often confrontations, I now add an extra sentence to my Introductory letter - "I have no problems with parents; I usually suggest the alternative". If I am confronted, I give the parent a fair hearing unless it becomes personal at me or any of the other players. Then I respond with - "If you are not happy, there is your child & there is the door: goodbye". I have found that by directing responses to what is often the parent's ego, things settle down and we can get on with business. In all the years, I have only had one parent withdraw his son and I feel we were better without him.


Coach Olson says:
12/25/2009 at 5:11:59 PM

thanks for this new letter i think it will help me out alot with how to deal with parents.


JM says:
4/18/2011 at 2:38:56 PM

I coach high school varsity. At the parents meeting, I include a letter (name blacked out) that our superintendent received from a parent of a player on another team, calmly describing an incident where some of our parents were calling the player derogatory names. I have them read it. The results are the same...stunend silence. I tell them flat out that is unacceptable. This past year, our players wrote a letter to their parents and two had the guts to stand up before them and read it...asking them to use good manners and sportsmanship at games. This past season was the best we ever had. No, they don't always agree with everything I do. But they were civil and behaved well.


Jerry says:
9/15/2011 at 5:55:35 AM

I always chose to keep up to 15 players on a team, but could only suit up 12 players. In an international setting there are huge demands placed on students academically and more than once a practice player wound up with a uniform.

I always had an inter-squad game before the season started followed by a parent meeting. 7-8 players on each side, evenly divided. The team captain was introduced (elected by the players), handouts shared, etc:
I clearly stated my own philosophy, our program was so strong that many times the subs got more clock than the starters. My favorite quote from this meeting?
"you can talk to me about any subject in the world, religion, politics..but one thing you will never ask me about is why your son does not play more. You need to ask him, and if he cannot give you an answer, that is exactly the problem. He is not listening."
In 19 seasons I had only one parent who did not really get it. I also kept impeccable statistics and had the players use them to set personal goals.


Coach JJ says:
9/15/2011 at 1:00:27 PM

Coach P- Understand that I have no firsthand knowledge of your situation but it would appear to me that you may need to put yourself in your daughters coaches shoes. There is a reason this coach is seeing fit to give more playing time to other players. Playing year-round and in other leagues would make little difference to a new coach who only has seen his players in practice and games. It is quite possible that the players you desire to see with more playing time may have a little bit of an attitude or work ethic problem. If these players think they deserve more playing time based on what they have done outside of this team then it could be understandable that they are not doing what it takes to earn time on this team. It would be rare for a coach to make decisions that are counterproductive to his own teams success. Always look within first before assuming someone else motives are not the best.


Coach JJ says:
9/15/2011 at 1:12:28 PM

Coach R- We have all been there (or will be) but I implore you to not give up based on a bad first experience. The previous posters are correct; You will have both good and bad parent experiences and it will vary from season to season. Follow the guidelines in this article and you will eliminate many of the headaches. Working with kids is great and something you should not deprive yourself of simply due to some overzealous parents. Do all you can to address these issues up front and then realize that, from time to time, you will still need to deal with unhappy parents. If you give them your philosophy, rules, playing time criteria, etc., you will be in a much better position to deal with these problems and to have the confidence in knowing you are handling them correctly.


Chuck Atwater says:
9/30/2011 at 1:55:46 PM

I thoroughly enjoyed this article and subject. Upon reflection there are several elements that I have practiced intuitively but you have broadened my scope of information that will provide an expanded framework in working with parents now and in the future.

Thanks for a well thought out and written article.
Chuck Atwater-Coach Powerstroke Athletic Club
www.basketballdrillsforbeginners.org


Abu says:
12/8/2011 at 12:07:05 AM

As someone who has coached high school, youth basketball, and been a player at a 4 yr college, whose career profession is as a teacher, and who sons are now playing high school basketball, it is surprising to see how coaches think different rules apply to them, than one an instructor in classroom does. You couldn't very well say to a parent wanting to visit a class their student is taking you're not allowed, we have a closed class (as in a closed practice). Furthermore, at the school my sons attend, I've never seen a group of coaches (a lot of turnover has occurred, with each year the coaches being more and more suspect), not understanding talent, skill, or the bigger prospects of explaining what they are doing and why.The coaches seem more concerned with teaching plays, and then developing players/skills. Players have been in this current regime's program for two years with no apparent growth having taking placed, with no effort on the coaches part to develop players. My sons have started/start and been/are captains, because their skill level, understanding of the game (basketball IQ) is more developed than the players they play with, and their games are developed and diverse. But at each turn, they have been met with coaches who are unwilling to fully "listen" and "respect" players like my sons who ask why, and want to understand what they are doing and why they seem content to teach spots instead of the game -- maybe due to their own limitations. I tape games, and good relationships with previous coaches at our school, and don't understand what these guys are seeing, much less doing. So, as a parent, how do I handle that? The perception is the parent is a "problem" but what happens when a parent is experienced and understand the game? I have coaches demanding my sons catch passes with a two-foot jump, and to only shoot lay-ups off of jump-stops. I tell my kids those things are situational I do skill work with them all the time, and stress diversity of their game, and being to do different things depending on the context of the situation. I try to give coaches their space even though I don't agree with what's happening. Sooo frustrated!


Ken Sartini says:
12/8/2011 at 7:52:11 AM

Abu -

For every person like you who really knows the game there are a 100 in the stands that "think they know the game."

Every coach (as you well know, from your own experiences) has their own philosophy... and we don't want to have to explain everything we do. You wouldn't want a parent coming into your classroom questioning your style of teaching and what you are teaching. (unless their kids were telling them that there was something wrong)

Its very hard to deal with every parent because they are only interested in their kids... not the team / whole picture.

I really don't know this situation, but you could always give the coach a call and see if he will meet with you regarding his program. You will have to tread lightly here since you don't want to put him on the defensive. He might be a young / inexperienced coach at this level and is on a learning curve himself.... so be patient.

As for the jump stop, a lot of coaches are going to this - I like that in the lane or for short range stuff.... but not outside the arc..JMO. Some players will do better with layups using a jump stop IF they are on their off hand side... there is so much to teach in this game as you well know.

I had to coach in a field house, sharing with some other things going on from time to time.. I got to the point that I locked the door so I could have some peace and quiet.
As for parents, few wanted to watch our practices but I wouldn't have had a problem with that... but thats just me.

Again, be patient here and try to talk to him outside of the gym area... no one wants to think that he or his philosophy is under attack.
You have been in his situation... or at least have been coaching, neither of us really know what is going on at their practices other than what your sons are telling you. Two sides to every story?

I hope you can work this out without alienating the coach and causing problems for your sons. Good luck.


Jeff Haefner says:
12/8/2011 at 8:27:18 AM

Abu - You bring up some good points. Coach Sartini also has excellent points. I will just add this...

All you can do is act as maturely and professionally as you possibly can. Set a great example for your son. Try to communicate in a mature and professional way. Try to offer solutions by seeking to understand where the coaches are coming from.

But also realize and accept that there are some things you can't control. Just like in basketball, you can't always control whether the refs call a foul, what your opponent does defensively, whether your teammate throws a bad pass, or even if you miss a shot. There are so many things you can't control. But you can control your effort, attitude, sportsmanship, character, and ethics 100% of the time!

You are going to run into bad coaches (not saying this coach is bad or not). You are going to run into bad bosses and co-workers. You are going to have bad teachers. That is life. So I think the most important thing is to instill the right qualities with your child and look at this is an opportunity. This is an opportunity to learn how to deal with situations. No matter what happens in basketball, there is always an opportunity to learn.

Teach your child perseverance, positive thinking, how to be proactive, work ethic, communication skills, being honest, character and integrity, and so on. You can also working on skills. If your does this, and he ENJOYS the moment, he will be successful in future basketball endeavors and life.

Just something to think about. Because frankly, I'm not sure there is anything you can do other than make the best of the situation.

PS. I know a few good coaches that go to jump stops on lay ups. I am not one of those coaches but I know others that do it because they are so tired of the majority of their players missing lay ups. They find that teaching jumps stops only cuts down on missed lay ups.


Ken Sartini says:
12/8/2011 at 8:47:08 AM

Great additions Jeff...

You always bring more insights to the questions / problems. I love reading your posts and Joes.


HARRIS AVDIKOS[BBALL TRAINER[GREECE] says:
1/1/2012 at 10:39:00 AM

ALL THE DESCRIBED INF,ARE SO PRECIOUS FOR ANY COACH IN ORDER TO COMPLETE HIS DUTIES SUCCESSFULLY.


Coach H says:
4/8/2012 at 6:23:33 PM

Have coached AAU and currently middle school ball. Have used a contract for last 10 years and have had just 1 parent issue in all this time. Communication is the key.

What I have not read is what the coaches are doing in the off season to prepare their players. Of course High School has different rules, but middle school, where fundamentals are the key to success for the High School program is essential.

We have open gym workouts during the summer. Though not a cure all, it provides parents an opportunity to help (which I encourage as we have 20-40 players each Saturday participate). It shows them what we are trying to accomplish. They must understand, it is your program and your decisions will not be influenced by their helping.

At the middle school level, it is work on fundamentals, get them to work as a team, and prepare them for High School.

There is always something new to learn, and this issue is outstanding. Will parts of this in my contract I do not use now.

Thank you


Ken says:
4/9/2012 at 7:29:03 AM

Coach H -

They should thank you!!

You are doing the things that every high school coach dreams about.... a middle school coach that teaches fundamentals and has the goal of preparing his players to play at the next level.

God Bless and keep up the good work.


Denise Young says:
4/28/2012 at 6:05:21 PM

Someone Please share some insight!
My son is in jr. little league, age 13. This year is the first year that the league has hired paid coaches.(no more Dad coaching) These coaches are supposed to get the kids ready for high school baseball.
In the pre-season, the games really mean nothing and the kids are encouraged to have fun, perfect their skills and get in shape for the playoffs.
The coach our team has never smiles or says good job to the kids. He is always pointing out what they did wrong and punishing them for their mistakes. I understand kids need to know what they are doing wrong to correct their mistakes. But the coach just says, "you are the laziest kid I've ever meet" or "you're such a baby to cry because you got beamed in the back by the pitcher". I feel he should have a better way of presenting the kids with their mistakes. You can encourage a child to correct his mistakes or be a better player by firing them up, not demoralizing them in front of the whole team. The coach singles out each kid that screwed up in the field in front of the team. They are feeling like they can't do anything right and are starting to dislike the game. We've had 3 kids quit already. Now we have only 10 players. I'd like to say something to the Coach that I understand he wants them to improve, but there has to be a way of communicating that. How about telling them that he knows they can get that grounded out ball if they get their glove down on the ground. Instead he's punching them in the stomach by telling them that they are the worst player he's seen and the laziest kid on the team.
My son use to love baseball, but now is getting a bad taste in his mouth because of this coach. I've told him he can change teams, but he loves his team not his coach.
help...
Thanks


Ken says:
4/28/2012 at 8:03:23 PM

Denise -

I know that there are always two sides to every story, but IF he is doing the things you describe here, it leaves you with a couple of options.

1- Get the parents together and have a FRIENDLY talk with him about what he is saying to the kids. Try to keep this friendly because NO coach likes to be "attacked"

2- You can pull your kid off that team and go to another team... IF that was my son, he would be gone.

3- Your group can always go to the head of this league or whoever is running this program and explain your problems... you can always ask him to stop by and watch what he is doing from a distance.

This is supposed to be fun and a learning situation and it doesn't seem to be either.
JMO


Jeff Haefner says:
4/29/2012 at 8:00:18 AM

The coach most likely has good intentions but has poor role models. If you watch TV he is doing what you see college and pro coaches do - yelling and getting upset about every little mistake. And at first correcting every mistake seems like the right things to do. But clearly that doesn't work well especially at the youth level. There are lots of coaches that do this. It's just how it is in all sports.

I think if the coach had the opportunity to learn this lesson and reflect on these methods, he might change. But having a parent on the team tell you how to coach usually doesn't change anything.

I don't know what the answer is but clearly there is a better way and Coach Sar gives you good options. Maybe the league administrators can provide the coach with some Positive Coaching resources.


Ken says:
4/29/2012 at 9:15:55 AM

Here is something else that you might want to check into.... its the Positive Coaching Alliance.



http://www.positivecoach.org/

http://www.positivecoach.org/our-tools/tools-for-coaches/

This might be something that the parents can look at and certainly something that you should forward to the league administrator.

Jeff, are you and Joe coming the the Bball clinic in Libertyvill in June?


Coach says:
5/27/2012 at 4:22:30 AM

I'm a young coach (20 years old) of an AAU middle school team. I coached last year also and had absolutely no parent problems. This year on the other hand I have had


Ken says:
5/27/2012 at 8:44:38 AM

Coach -

Welcome to the world of coaching today .. there seems to be a lot of that in today's world.

The best way of (at least trying ) to prevent things like this happening is to have a pre-season meeting so that you can discuss your philosophy and expectations of your players and the parents.

Remember, EVERYBODY in the stands is a coach and they have NEVER lost a game.. relax and have FUN with your kids and make sure they know what you expect of them. Be firm, fair and consistent... IF they know YOU CAREabout them ( more than just basketball players ) they will do their best for you and the team.

Good luck.


Mike Ewing says:
8/29/2012 at 11:21:42 AM

Great article. As a national baseball coach for the last 15 years, I agree that parents can make it a miserable task. I tell them at the beginning of the year that I am responsible for their baseball training and not to have to deal with their parents. My goal is to help each player improve and hopefully enough to go to the next level and succeed. That takes enough time and energy. I have none left for dealing with overzealous parents. http://baseballinstructionalvideos.net


Sean says:
8/31/2012 at 10:14:42 PM

This is really great information! Luckily, I have had great parent support and participation so far. However, there's plenty here that will be implemented immediately.


Davy Crockett says:
9/22/2012 at 8:35:34 PM

This article is from the "coaches are gods" play book. What other professional that spends 20 hours a week with your kid is exempt from being accountable to parents when the parent thinks something needs questioning? There is an appropriate time and place, but Yes, Coach, i will ask about how my child is doing or ask for information about what your assessment is of my childs role on the team...if you don't like it....YOU should go to another school and coach other kids whose parents don't mind you being defensive and above questions about your behavior.


Ken says:
9/22/2012 at 10:00:42 PM

Davy -

I don't see that..... I think that most coaches just don't want to get attacked... and I have seen it, physically and verbally.

IF you have a question/problem with a coach, call him and make an appointment, away from games and practices.

Nothing wrong with asking a coach about how your son is doing.. just remember, we work with them 5 days - sometimes 6 days a week and you see them on game day.

If a coach is acting poorly and is a bad role model, you have every right to talk to him and discuss it... and if that doesn't work, go to the AD.

Most coaches wont talk about playing time or their philosophy... those are the coaches jobs and their right - most of them have paid their dues to be in that position. Again, IF his behavior is bad... then you have every right to talk to him and the AD.

Just remember, IF you want to talk to a coach, make sure that you don't come across as being aggressive. I never had a problem talking to a parent as long as it was a calm discussion. IF I felt that I ( or one of my staff members ) were going to be attacked I would make sure the AD was involved.

I wonder how many parents would be ok with an honest evaluation of how good their child was? ( and what he/she needed to do to improve ) A lot of parents think ( not saying you ) that their kid is the next MJ.

I was helping a 12 year old boy with his shot... it was pretty good except that he finished with both hands. I was trying to correct that ( I felt that this kid could be an excellent high school player ) The father wanted to know how many games I had won as a high school coach.... what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? I asked him what year? Then I said that when I had GREAT / GOOD shooters we won a lot of games.... and when I didn't, we lost. Simple game, you score, you can win, you don't score, you lose. JMO


Grant says:
9/28/2012 at 11:47:37 PM

I find it amazing how many parents commenting on here know more about basketball than the coach. It sure is easy to be an expert from the stands.

Playing time and coaching philsophy are decisions the coach is either being paid to make or has volunteered his/her time to make. Let him/her make those decisions.These types of decisions do not concern the parent. Your job is to be in the stands and support the team.


Ken says:
9/29/2012 at 8:43:57 AM

Grant -

Obviously you read my comment... I think I would just like to add this to your comment.

Fans / parents - This job is hard enough without people in the stands trying to "coach" from there. IF you really want to coach, get your own team.... you will find out very quickly that its not as easy as you might think.

It's not just throwing the ball out there and letting them play. You make 5 kids and parents happy, the rest find all kinds of reasons why you are not doing a good job.

Quick story - One coach had been getting harrassed for now playing some kids.... he had enough and at one game he put out 10 players.... the ref told him that you know you cant do that.... I will have to give you Ts for the other 5 players... he said, go ahead, THAT is who I am putting on the floor. Game starts, he gets 5 Ts, he turns to the stands and says.... " See, I told you that I can only play 5! "


Randy says:
1/11/2013 at 11:22:33 AM

Coach, this is good advice to follow but is not always done. I have coached my kids through the years and have always been harder on them than the rest of the team while keeping a leval playing field for all the kids. I was the coach that tried to teach the kids and play them without favoritsm. But now that they are in high school , I have found it not to be a leval playing field for the kids at all. Our high school is loaded with the so called small town politics. It is where if you are related to someone in the school system or members of the booster club youre kids are handed everything.Case in point the coach tells everyone that they will be doing camps during the summer and to email him if your interested. So we email him only to to get a response ,that they are not doing any. Come to find out he not only coach several of the kids at a camp and he also coached them during a summer league.Now these are the only kids that he plays. Now to give you an Idea we are talking basketball, at 6'' 6" , 205 lbs my son is clearly the tallest on the team next is 6''3" and the rest go 5'' 10- 6''. I son tells me on a consistant basis that offensivly the other kids can''t stop him from scorring in practice and defensivly they won''t try drive on him as he usually blocks their shots.
Second point is they played a scrimage and the coach played him for about 15 min of the 40. He goes 9 for 9 from the floor ,blocks 4 shots, 5 rebounds and 4 assits. The coach has played him a total of 6mins since then,4 second in one game yes 4 seconds, we are in the 7th game of the season (record 3-4). My son has tried to talk him about why he''s not playing and the coach tells him I''ll get you in but It has to the right situation.Did''nt say anything about him not hustling or his attitude or anything to that nature.
As a parent what do you tell your child in this situation, or what do you say to the coach. I tried to watch a practice to see what was going on, the coach immeadiatly told me leave and that it was a closed practice and it''s only open to players and former players( I could have been a real pain and told him I not only a Alumni but also a former player) which I left.My wife ran into the head of school sytem and said how they were not having a good season and he told her to get used to it.
Now maybe you and the other coaches could give me some advice on how to handle a situation like this. a kid who is extremly discouraged and wants to quit, and to a parent who feels that your child is being slighted.



Ken Sartini says:
1/11/2013 at 2:33:38 PM

Randy -

This is tough to answer since we are only hearing your side of the story. I sure would like to hear what the coach has to say.

Not sure why he has a closed practice, especially of a parent.

Looking at your son's size.... hard to understand why he isn't playing... (along with his stats)

Has your son tried to talk to the coach and ask what he needs to do to better himself and get more playing time.

If that doesn't work, call the coach and asking for a meeting to discuss your son's situation and what he needs to improve upon to get more playing time. You can always go to the AD also.

If you don't come away with a satisfactory solution... is there another school in town that he could go to? At 6'6" I would think that other schools would have some interest in him.


Will says:
1/22/2013 at 2:23:24 PM

The article is good for the most part. You do, however, need to remember one thing. You are there for the kids, not vice-versa. Check your attitudes at the door and treat every kid with respect.
Also, parents should never have to move a kid because of a coach. I know my opinion may not be popular here as this seems to be a coaches forum, but I have been successful (as so many coaches have) in my 30+ seasons coaching. You will have more longevity in the business if you AWAYS keep the kids needs in front of your own ego.


Ken Sartini says:
1/22/2013 at 2:57:31 PM

Will -

How right you are.... the problem comes when the coach thinks more about his W/L record than the kids he is working with. I don't see anything wrong with your thoughts.

I coached a LONG time also....and I was able to do this beause I didn't take the game home with me. I didn't make any RASH decisions after a game, bad or good. NEVER make any decisions when you are angry.

I tell this to coaches all the time... " Don't make any decisons now, go home and sleep on it, then make a calm decision in the morning.


twinletoes says:
1/26/2013 at 9:42:30 PM

Have been posting about son's coach now for the past couple of weeks. I do not know how to coach, nor do I tell him how to coach. But my son is just 11 years old, others on team are 12. Son has sat on bench entire season so far. Great practices. But coach says he will not play an idividual where they will fail? He made the team, play him, for gosh sakes. Again, don't know what coach is thinking, but know son is feeling bad. Only 4 more games to go in season, thank goodness. Hoping for 'some' playing time soon


Ken says:
1/26/2013 at 11:01:07 PM

(aka Coach Sar)

Hang in there, its almost over. I hope this guy finds some PT for your son.

Don't even try to get into this coaches head.... We ARE a strange breed LOL Its not an easy job but you know how I feel about this age group.

Let them play and have FUN.

Enjoy the rest of the year and move on. :-)


Cindy says:
1/29/2013 at 11:18:18 AM

So it comes to this - little over half of the season has gone by - the team is not a team at all - a senior ball-hog and an upcoming sophomore ball-hog making playing on the team simply unbearable. My daughter has been playing basketball since 2nd grade. She made the JV team as a 7th grader and the Varsity as an 8th grader - she's a sophomore now and 3rd season on the Varsity, second as a starter. She is a very talented player - great defender and percentage wise is the best shooter on the team. The season started off great - the girls really trying to be a team and playing as such. My daughter was the top scorer until the 11th game. Her shot is off and besides that she doesn't get a chance really to shoot that much because she plays team ball - not hog-ball like the senior does. The senior is a good player - little too aggressive on defense as she has fouled out of 5 games (first three) and got close a couple other times. For the senior - it's all about being the high scorer - doesn't matter how the team is doing. The season is 2-11 right now - it was 4 and 14 last year. Points aren't really the issue since everyone knows the coach will put the senior up for All-Northern regardless of the points - just like last year (my daughter was the high scorer last year but didn't get nominated). Really, the coach is the problem... There is absolutely no discipline on the team, no skills building, no individual attention at practice (never once helped my daughter with her shot that's off - no recommendations or ideas); there is absolutely no "team" on this team. Now we have another sophomore that figures if the senior can get away with being a ball-hog so can I and so it perpetuates. In the end, my daughter has lost all passion for the game. She goes out on the floor and works her butt off to defend the best player on every team and then doesn't hardly ever get a chance to shoot on offensive - and we know she's lost passion because now she's passing off balls that she should be taking shots with... It's so frustrating to see what has happened to a very talented player - it breaks my heart that she just could care less about a sport she really used to love. She has even decided not to play AAU ball after the school season; up to 40 games she used to play off-season to better her skills - I guess she wonders what good it's for since when she gets back to her scholastic team - it really doesn't help because there is no-one grooming these girls to be team-players. We've always insisted that she see her commitments through to the end so quitting is not an option - but I hate to see her so disinterested in playing and we have 5 more games to go. Is there anything we can do as parents to encourage her to continue to do her best even if there is really no point? Maybe this wasn't the correct forum to post this but since you were talking about ball-hogs and that's what she has on her team which is like a virus to the whole squad - I thought I'd put this out there and see if anyone had any advice. Thanks.


BobSF says:
1/29/2013 at 4:09:23 PM

Do you differentiate between "more playing time for my Honey BooBoo" parents, versus "are you adhering to the minimum playing time rules?" parents...?? I'm coming off of a situation (admittedly in different club sport) where my kid was having (over HALF of) his minimum playing time minutes, as prescribed by the league rules, siphoned off and given to the coaches' sons, who are starters and better athletes. I'm a youth coach myself, but I didn't see any avenue for my 9-year-old benchwarmer to question his coaches on very blatant league rule infractions, so I took the matter to them directly after game two. They defended their actions in the name of winning - and continued them for the remainder of the season. Literally half of the kid's minimum playing time went to the best players. So, if the team didn't win, at least the best players got better. I wrote a professional letter to the club management, and had my kid moved to a better situation within the organization. Was I wrong to stick up for my kid in this situation, are youth coaches always correct even when playing time rules are being flouted at the expense of weaker players in the vast majority of games..?


Ken says:
1/29/2013 at 7:12:08 PM

Cindy -

It seems like there is a lot of this going around.
With only 5 more games to go, I would encourage her to finish the season, doing her best (it a shot comes her way.. TAKE IT) and try to have fun. As for AAU, I would encourage her to continue this, who knows what will happen between the end of the season and next year. Maybe she will enjoy AAU ball more and who knows where that will take her.

Bob -

What you are experiencing is one of the things that is wrong with youth sports. 9 year old kids is about having FUN and learning the skills to play.... and NOT WINNING as the end all.!! I don't blame you for writing the letter and getting your kid moved to another team.

"are youth coaches always correct even when playing time rules are being flouted at the expense of weaker players in the vast majority of games..?"
There is a very simple answer to this question... the answer is NO.... it is coaches like this that ruins the games for young kids... they have no business coaching youth sports

Good luck and I hope your kid has a better experience with the new team..


musenme says:
2/23/2013 at 4:22:32 PM

How do you handle this situation? My son went to his new coach and asked him why he was not getting more playing time and what he could improve on. The coach told him he liked his game and he was just screwing him. He was a starter last year and this year on JV mostly on the bench. Comments????


Ken Sartini says:
2/23/2013 at 4:41:49 PM

You are kidding us right? His coach has a poor choice of words - hard to believe that he is serious. There has to be more to this than meets the eye???

How old is he and JV is sophomores or ??


Youth Coach says:
3/16/2013 at 3:48:58 PM

I coach a youth basketball team of 3rd and 4th graders. In the past 2 games, and so far only 2 games, I have one parent coming up listening to my pre game directions in the huddle, coming up to me during the game, while the kids are actively playing, asking questions regarding the games defense, DURING the game! Its very frustrating to me, but I am not really sure what to say to him. Last game he sat on the bench with his son. I have an assistant coach on the bench with the kids, and my assistant thought it was someone from the league, not knowing it was a parent. This parent is not trying to impose his or any coaching tips or strategies on me, but its very distracting to be approached during a game, or watched closely during a huddle. I am not sure how to handle this in a kind way. I want to send him an email, but fear that the other parents might follow suit in his ways, since they have already watched it happen. On the other hand, if I send out a team email, I don't want him to feel singled out.


Ken Sartini says:
3/17/2013 at 7:32:03 AM

Here is something that you should do, probably before the season started... but thats past.... so....

Have a meeting with the team and parents... set out the rules... like no parents on the bench... being positive in the stands towards all the players.

Try to be positive with some team rules. Let them know what your goals are.... teaching some fundamentals and allowing these young kids to have fun.

The kids don't need a parent of fan leaning into your huddles distracting the players..... its tough enough keeping their attention at this age.

Good luck.


Maddi says:
4/28/2013 at 4:48:46 AM

Please help
While taking footage of my 11 year old child I witnessed certain players being very unsportsmanlike. I then approached the coach who oversees about 70+ kids at training. While I was explaining the situation I was told not to tell him how to do his job repeatedly.

I tried to explain that I was only informing him as a concerned parent especially considering my child plays on the same team as these children.

I'm now second guessing myself. Should I have approached him?

Concerned parent.


Jeff Haefner says:
4/28/2013 at 8:42:57 AM

Hard saying without knowing exactly what the kids were doing. If something inappropriate or something that will have a negative impact on the kids was happening, I think you should certainly let the coach know what is going on (like you said "inform" them in case they didn't notice).

But you have to be very careful when approaching coaches and it's usually better to start the conversation about something positive. Mention how much they are improving. Ask the coach for help (maybe ask a question about drills your son can do at home). Then insert the information about the the situation with the kids, just letting him know you thought he would appreciate the heads up in case he didn't notice it going on.

Some coaches are very sensitive because they have been beaten up so badly by a few overzealous parents who frankly are a little nuts. It's the most frustrating part of being a coach.. nothing like getting screamed at by an irate parent of a kid that you really care about. Not to mention the parents that think they have a better way to do things and know more than you -- criticizing every decision you make. So some coaches put a wall up. Not saying it's right. But that's what happens and I can definitely understand why.


bcspace says:
5/6/2013 at 5:26:20 PM

I've seen and experienced all sides. I've been a coach at all levels (different sport). I've been the parent of multiple players, boys and girls. I generally have a lot of respect for those who coach youth and teens. I have seen not only bad coaches, but bad parents and players as well. It is likely that when I first started out, I myself was a "bad", or at least incompetent (I prefer inexperienced) coach.

So what can a parent do about an unreasonable coach who is either incompetent or plays favorites or politics etc. to the detriment of a player who is obviously (even after video review and comparison with the coach's stated methods of judging a player) superior?

There is no way to approach a coach and give your side without at least implying that their system or judgement is flawed even if you are most calm and polite and rational. I think most coaches either don't realize that or are just blowing smoke in your face when they say they are approachable. On the flip side it is their team as the article notes and they usually have the right to run it as they see fit. What a dilemma!

The recourse unfortunately, if you can't find a way to calmly convince the coach that you are right or get some parents together to complain to the AD or school board, is as the article stated, find a different program.

Before you complain about playing time, you have to also make darn sure your kid is one of the top five or six or eleven (depending on the sport) because to a coach, everyone else who is not a starter or a valued sub is pretty much equally inferior in ability and in those cases, it really is politics or favoritism (usually subconscious on the coach's part) or some subjective notion about upside, that gets them on the team or some playing time. There is no way around it that I can think of.

But I am glad that this article encourages coaches to find time for those players and find ways to develop them. Most competitive coaches I've seen don't care much to develop their lesser/younger players or don't know how.


Ken Sartini says:
5/6/2013 at 8:04:12 PM

bc -

We are all inexperienced when we start.... I probably gave "bad" a whole new meaning.

You are right, it is his team and he can run it anyway he sees fit. If talking to the Coach or the AD doesn't solve your problem... maybe it would be better to find a different program.

I'm not sure I agree with the part about the non valued sub.... every player on the team brings something ( as a coach, we would hope )
Tough defender, rebounder, can handle the ball a little bit? I remember putting in the 9th man, he played good D but got a T.... I could have ....................... took him out of the game and told him that he didn't have the right to do that to the rest of the team.... went back to coaching... we won the game on the last shot. Just recently I watched the game film.... he played great D and didn't make a mistake untill he opened his mouth.
Amazing what we can see when we are calm. Yes, there are times we keep kids just because we like them.... sometimes they turn out to be great players, it happens.

Regardless of the level I coached... we worked every player equaly in practice... with every drill, whether it be shooting, ball handling or defense. Game time, best players play... use the subs when you can or as you need them. Fortunately as a Varsity coach we had a JV team and the kids that didn't play in the varsity game played in the JV game. When I was the Sophomore coach, I played about 8-9 players unless the game dictated otherwise.

I think that most of my players over the years knew that I cared about all of them, not just as athletes, but as people. I tried to treat them all the same. I think thats all you can ask of a coach.


Concerned Parent says:
7/13/2013 at 8:05:59 PM

I really like the article and all the wisdom and responses. How do you handle a coach that has said that your daughter is not "smart enough" to play on the varsity team?

Just to give you some back ground, my daughter and her 5 JV team mates, who will be Juniors this fall, just completed try-outs for summer basketball. Only one girl made it to varsity and she is about 5"10'. My daughter, who is a 5"7' guard/forward was working out with varsity all last year and was invited to play with varsity in a tournament two weeks ago where she did pretty good and took advantage of any time she had on the court, was told by the JV coach right before the last try-out that she and one other girl on JV did not make varsity for the summer because the varsity coach said they were not “smart enough”. There are 5 spots open on varsity. One spot is saved for a transfer, the other spot was taken by the 5’10” player from jv and the var coach has put two incoming freshman on the summer var team. My daughter is better than some of the varsity players currently on the team (I don't have on parent glasses and I'm not looking through rose tinted glasses). I give credit where credit is due and some of the varsity girls are very good bball players. My daughter also plays for an elite sponsored travel ball program and has a trainer. Her game has improved so much. There are fans/boosters of the girls varsity bball team who have seen my daughter play and have told my daughter that if she is not on varsity in the fall, there is a serious problem (There is one more try-out in September for one spot) and the varsity coach has already approved her to be in the varsity P.E. class.

I am at my wits end more because I just don't know how to handle the situation with what the coach said about my daughter and the other girl. In my opinion, that was a cop out excuse from the coach and just chose not to put my daughter on varsity. A few days ago, she played with varsity in another tournament that was scheduled at the last minute. She played so well, with rebounds, assists and she scored in double figures. She is intimidated by the coach and won’t talk to the coach about what SHE needs to improve in. The coach will praise her and tell her what she does wrong in a game situation only. She really does have a basketball IQ, but of course needs to continue to develop and improve Please help me understand. Thanks!


Ken Sartini says:
7/14/2013 at 9:22:32 PM

I am confused a little bit.... Did the Varsity coach tell her that she wasn't smart enough or is this the assistants opinions?

She played well in the tourney, the head coach praises her and tells her what she needs to improve on? She has played in tourneys and does fairly well and she was just invited to play in the last one correct? She worked out with the Varsity last year and she has been approved to be in the Varsity PE class too? These seem to be good signs to me. I'm not sure how to handle what the assistant told her, I would want to hear this from the head coach not from someone else.

As far as fans and boosters saying who should and should not play, I would take that with a grain of salt. As an X head coach, I never listened to anyone other than my assistants regarding players and game philosophy.... but I was the one that made the final decision.... that's why we get paid the big bucks LOL I can tell you from my past experience that I knew during the summer who was going to be on the Varsity the following year. When the season started and tryouts began, I looked for transfer students, kids that grew or improved their game greatly to be on the team. Just because they were on the Sophomore ( JV in your case ) did not guarantee them a spot on the Varsity. I had the advantage of having 5 levels. Freshman A & B, Sophomores, JV & Varsity that practiced together and had a separate schedule.

My suggestion is that your DAUGHTER talk to the head coach and ask him / her what she needs to do to improve her game and if she has any chance to make the team next year. IF he is willing to talk to her, she should feel free to ask some questions regarding what she needs to improve upon. Every player needs to improve their game, at least as coaches we hoped the players felt that way.

I know that this is a difficult situation for you and I hope this helps a little bit anyway. Good luck



Concerned Parent says:
7/15/2013 at 12:21:20 AM

Thanks for your response It helped a lot....

Sorry I was a little confusing. You are correct in restating what I initially wrote.

In my daughter's school there are only 2 teams, JV and Varsity.My daughter was on the JV team as a freshman and sophomore. She is trying to make varsity for her junior year. To clarify, It was the current JV coach that told my daughter the varsity coach said that she (my daughter) does not play "smart basketball". The JV coach was the one who told my daughter what the varsity coach said because the varsity coach was not going to say anything to my daughter. The JV coach disagrees with the varsity coach's opinion and did encourage my daughter to talk to the varsity coach. My daughter just needs to build up the courage. She is working very hard to improve in all areas.The JV coach is also talking to the varsity coach every chance she gets about the progress my daughter is making because the JV coach feels my daughter should be on varsity.

Thanks again. Will keep you posted on the outcome.


Ken Sartini says:
7/15/2013 at 8:24:38 AM

Talk to your daughter and let her know that the JV coach is in her corner.... this is another positive area.

Why don't you try a little role playing with her so she can gain some confidence regarding her talking to the head coach. That could help a little bit too.

Let me tell you that some head coaches are pretty stubborn LOL ... I know, I was one of them. :-) How did one parent describe my coaching style.... " A little to the left of Attila the Hun. " LOL

Good luck and I really hope this works out for both of you.

Keep us posted;


Jeff Haefner says:
7/15/2013 at 8:25:39 AM

I completely agree. The only option is for her to go talk to the head coach. It does not guarantee success but it's the only logical thing she can do.

Maybe this makes you feel better about the decision... As a parent, coach, writer, and trainer, I believe that your role as a parent should be to be very supportive (be there for her) and set a good example of how to handle situations (walk the walk) --- and otherwise stay out of it. Let her handle things like you're planning to.

If she fails, she can eventually learn from it. If she succeeds, she can eventually learn from it. If the parent interferes and tries to "take care of things" for them, nothing will be learned.

Good luck!


Ken Sartini says:
7/15/2013 at 8:28:24 AM

Jeff -

Are you agreeing that I was a stubborn coach and was a little to the left of Attila the Hun? OR................ LOL


Concerned Parent says:
7/15/2013 at 3:53:29 PM

Thanks Ken and Jeff. LOL, you two are funny.

Ken,

This varsity coach is very stubborn and controlling and can be demeaning to the team at times. That's why my daughter is reluctant to talk to the varsity coach. Roll play is a great idea! Will definitely try that.


Ken Sartini says:
7/15/2013 at 7:33:46 PM

Tell her its a Jekyll & Hyde thing.... ON the floor is one thing... OFF the floor is another. We look for perfection during practice and games so that we can get the best out of our players.

Once the game is over, its over. IF your daughter makes an appointment with him/her, I am sure that he will be more willing to talk with her and explain everything.

My players used to call me SAR or Coach Sar .... and one kid here said this to me.... " Now I know where the SAR in SARcasm comes from.... ask Jeff & Joe, they know how I am LOL So did my kids, there was a lot of give and take... I liked to have fun at this game. I said a lot of things to my kids in jest that some people would think was bad / crazy but my players knew.

I coached sophomore girls in my last year.... they told me to coach them just like I did the boys... I looked at them and laughed, told them NO WAY, I don't want you crying all the time.... I will teach / coach you like I did the boys but I wont talk to you like I did the boys. Everyone has their own style.... tell your daughter to get to know him better and things will be easier for her.

Good luck


Concerned Parent says:
9/9/2013 at 2:34:37 AM

Hi Jeff and Ken,

Wanted to give you an update regarding my daughter's experience with the varsity coach and the comment that she is not "smart enough" to play varsity.

Since school started in August, she is now conditioning and practicing with varsity during P.E. and after school. Also, she and another girl from the JV team were told by the varsity coach that they are now "good enough to play with varsity" for fall league. They played their 1st fall league game this past Saturday and did pretty well. I think the coach was pleased and praised when they did a good job and definitely told them when they made a mistake.

Unfortunately, this still does not guarantee them a spot on varsity, but I'm thinking it'looks promising and if they continue to work hard, hopefully the var coach will keep them on varsity.


Ken Sartini says:
9/9/2013 at 7:41:41 AM

Thanks for the update and I am glad that your daughter is seeing some success.

I am not sure how to read the Varsity coach, BUT, maybe he is just pushing them to work hard and be ready for the season.

I wish them luck and I hope that things work out for both of them. Tell them to keep working on their game.... and to concentrate on some of the little things... IF they do that, the big things will take care of themselves.


Concerned Parent says:
9/15/2013 at 8:30:39 PM

Thank you Ken! Yes, this coach is very hard to read. My daughter and the other jv player are working very hard to earn the 2 spots that are open on var. What's interesting is that they are the only 2 going for 2 open spots.

I have one other question for you. I couldn't find the answer in the other articles I read on this website. Do some coaches use reverse psychology to motivate their players?

The var coach tells my daughter that she can't play defense (during practice), when defense is what she is strongest at. In games(fall league), the var coach will put her on the most athletic and best girl on the opposing team to shut them down. I guess I don't understand this.


Ken Sartini says:
9/15/2013 at 9:23:13 PM

C P -

I am kind of laughing but I know its not funny to you or your daughter. (or the other girl)

I know I was never good at Math but 2 girls for 2 spots tells me they are in...Laughing again as I read the REVERSE psychology comment.. there were many times I did that with boys... tried to get them mad at me at times.... so they would play harder but my last year when I coached the girls sophomore team I didn't do that... I didn't want them crying all the time. :-)


Ken Sartini says:
9/15/2013 at 9:23:14 PM

C P -

I am kind of laughing but I know its not funny to you or your daughter. (or the other girl)

I know I was never good at Math but 2 girls for 2 spots tells me they are in...Laughing again as I read the REVERSE psychology comment.. there were many times I did that with boys... tried to get them mad at me at times.... so they would play harder but my last year when I coached the girls sophomore team I didn't do that... I didn't want them crying all the time. :-)


Ken Sartini says:
9/15/2013 at 9:28:17 PM

The one thing that confuses me is she plays the toughest player on the other team, THAT tells me that the coach has confidence in her.... because if that is me and that player is a stiff on D.... she sure isn't covering their best player.

Tell your daughter to hang in there, keep working hard, have a good attitude, try to be leader and smile at the coach before and after practice and say, "see you tomorrow coach."

How long before they pick the team? (the 2 girls know they are on or off the team?)


Concerned Parent says:
9/16/2013 at 1:16:10 AM

I don't blame you for laughing. Trust me I have had a few laughs myself because it is really very weird confusing and crazy. My daughter, on the other hand, has shed a tear or two. She is usually pretty tough, but this has been hard for her. I feel as if this coach is playing a lot of head games and telling her she can't play defense will make her work harder, but she will also start to believe him.

So the coach tells my daughter and the other jv player there are 2 spots available, but the coach could decide to fill only one of those 2 spots. We saw it happen last year.

They probably won't know until October if they have made the varsity team. As soon they find out. I will be posting to let you know. Thanks! :)


Ken Sartini says:
9/16/2013 at 9:47:46 AM

C P -

Let her read my last post if you want.... while this is varsity ball which gets more serious... she still needs to have some fun here.

Maybe after a practice, she can talk to the coach privately and ask.... " Coach, IF I am such a bad defender, why am I defending their best player every game?" Then say, I am confused about that.

IF he fills only one of the two spots, then there is something wrong with him... its hard to figure out what he is thinking? Who knows, you know that coaches are a weird group LOL

Next time you get back to me, I will tell you a very funny story.... and if you don't laugh over this one, you might need to see if you are still breahing LOL


Concerned Parent says:
9/16/2013 at 12:36:02 PM

LOL... thanks Ken. I am always looking for a good laugh. Will show my daughter your previous post and have her ask the coach for clarification on her defense as you suggested.


Concerned Parent says:
9/27/2013 at 7:07:32 PM

Well Ken, I did not think I would be getting back to you this soon. Confusion again with the whole basketball thing and I need your opinion. Here is the story:

Basketball try-outs were this past Tuesday Sept. 24th. The only players that tried out were most of the freshmen and sophomores who played in the summer (3 injured and on crutches) plus my daughter and the other junior who is hoping to get moved to var. Two other juniors (who played previous years and in the summer) quit because they knew they were not going to make varsity this year and another sophomore quit because she decided to concentrate on track. Well the total healthy number of jv players is 10 (including my daughter and the other junior). The coaches will not have a jv team unless there are at least 10 players. My daughter looked at the coach and said "do I have to play jv again" the coach said "I don't know, we're trying to figure it out" My daughter was then told the next day that she would continue to practice and play with varsity in fall league, however, she has to practice and play with jv as well in their fall league. There was no other explanation of what is going to happen next. The jv practices are not challenging and not fun for her.

Here is my thought:

Daughter will be moved to varsity once the hurt jv players are cleared to play, or maybe it's wishful thinking LOL. I can't imagine them having her continue to play with varsity if they had no intention of moving her. That is just wrong in my opinion. What do you think?


Ken Sartini says:
9/27/2013 at 7:55:18 PM

CP -

How does your daughter feel about all of this? This is the most important thing? How is she handling this? Does she want to stick it out or does she want to quit? Right now, this should be her decision.

Every coach works a little differently.... and while I wouldn't do this without tell your daugter my plans.... he has the right to handle this his way.

Is she a junior now? Played last year on Varsity? ( I have to refresh my mind lol )

Playing on both levels in the fall leagues wont hurt her.... Playing will only help her game... and if she is playing well, that's a plus ..... how will all those practices effect her school work?

They certainly are messing with her mind.... testing her character so to speak? What do they say, " that what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger. " I wish I could figure out what they are thinking!! I'd like to think you are right about her playing varsity now and not making the team..

OK, here is the laugh I promised you... You can show your daughter the story too............................. ( I think you need one )

8 seconds left to go in the game, we are up 1 - they have the ball - 84' feet away. They bring the ball up the sideline and we trap him just over half court... :-) he throws the ball across court, it is going out of bounds and I am a happy camper.... one of their kids jumps out of bounds, turns in mid air, throws the ball at the basket.... SWISH! :-( my center grabs the ball and yells time out..... arrgghh..... I get up and say..... ** ****! My assistant says, "whats wrong?" I tell him that NOW I have to come up with a play.... we are both laughing now.

The kids come running over and sit down, they grab some water while I am diagramming this play, something we have done many times before. My sport coat is off as usual, tie is down as usual.... the kid right in front of me chokes on his cup of water and SPITS it right in my face.

I very calmly wipe my face off and my tie.... and my face again... I look down at the Posey board, look up at them and say, I DIDN'T THINK THE PLAY WAS THAT BAD, LOL The whole team is roaring on the bench...... the players go out on the floor still laughing... the refs come up to them and ask
them what I said to them at this point of the game...( we are down two with about 5 seconds on the clock.) They said, we cant talk to you right now.

Now you won't believe this.... but we run the play and hit a three at the buzzer from the corner, for the W!!! What a great coach I am. LOL

After the game the reporters ask me what happened, I tell them the story and of course they wanted to print it... I said, be my guest. It was a big WIN.


Concerned Parent says:
9/28/2013 at 12:12:47 PM

LOL... That is definitely an awesome funny story and what a memorable game. Both my daughter and I wish we could have been there to witness it.
Thanks for sharing :)

My daughter is a junior this year and through fall last year, as a sophomore, she practiced with varsity and was enrolled in basketball class with varsity, but was not invited to play fall leagut with varsity and when it was time for try-outs, she was placed on the jv team where she shined and started every game. In this program, once a player has made the varsity team, they no longer have to try-out. Their sport is secure.

Interestingly enough, right now, my daughter is okay. She is going to ride it out through fall to see if she can tell where she will end up. If she is s placed on jv for the 3rd straight year, she has made the decision to quit and focus on track (which she excels in) basketball is her first love. She has built a good repore with the var coach. My older son, who knows the var coach seems to think that she will be placed on varsity because the varsity coach has invested a lot of time in my daughter and she has bonded with the varsity team. As for me, I'm afraid to get my hopes up.... She is happy when she leaves the practices and conditioning with varsity and the coach makes it a point to tell her he can see the hard work and improvement. I just wonder why all of the mind games.....


Ken Sartini says:
9/28/2013 at 8:49:36 PM

Glad that both of you liked the story... next time I think you need a good laugh I will send you one more.

I hope he isn't playing with her mind.... and I hope that things work out for her.


Concerned Parent says:
9/29/2013 at 4:53:57 PM

Thanks Ken... looking forward to another story, I hope they aren't playing with her mind and that things will work out for her too.

As soon as she finds out, will let you know.


Ken Sartini says:
9/29/2013 at 5:12:24 PM

Let me know when you need another laugh... laughs are good for everyone.


Officer Mom says:
10/2/2013 at 11:14:59 PM

I have a situation I am not sure how to handle that I would like a coaches perspective on. I have 2 sons that play football, a 16 year old that plays Jr Varsity and Varsity and an 8 year old that plays youth league football. I am the treasure for the youth league which rents playing time on the varsity playing field. There was an issue with the field at our last game and the Varsity coach sent a negative message via my 16 year old to me. I felt this was very inappropriate. I would like to talk with him about it, but I do not want it to affect my sons relationship with his coach. I just need some input. Thanks,


Ken Sartini says:
10/5/2013 at 10:29:35 AM

O Mom -

Well, he already sent the message so you can solve that problem...... sit down and discuss whatever the problem was and then ask him very nicely..... in the future if we have a problem would you mind calling me directly instead of going through my son. Then give him your number and thank him.

He might not have given it a second thought ( I don't know what the problem was ) maybe he just figured it was a fast way to get the message to you.

Sorry for the slow reply.


Ken Sartini says:
10/5/2013 at 10:31:03 AM

C P -

I think the reason that you and your daughter wished you were there was to see the kid spit in my face LOL It was pretty funny, I still laugh about it today.

How are things going?


Concerned Parent says:
10/11/2013 at 2:13:54 AM

Hi Ken,

We love to watch exciting, nail biting basketball games (there is nothing better) and what you described sounds both funny and exciting. Yes, to witness the kid spit in your face would have been shocking and maybe pretty funny LOL...

Things are basically the same right now. My daughter continues to work out and practice with varsity. The coach has not given any hint as to what his decision will be, but he did tell her that she is playing with varsity in fall league and is also playing with jv in fall league (they are short players due to injuries),

The official bball season starts Nov. 25th, so she should know her fate probably the first week of November and as soon as she finds out, I will let you know. Thanks for asking :)


Ken Sartini says:
10/11/2013 at 8:33:40 AM

CP -

The game was great.... and the kid spitting in my face was really funny..... and I think I shocked the kids with my reaction... calm and stoic.... very unlike me on the bball floor LOL

I hope this guy puts her on the varsity.... amazing that she is playing with two teams, so I cant imagine him putting her on JV.... but then again..... you know some of us coaches can be a little goofy. :-)

ok, 2nd laugh..... we are playing a conference game.... my team and the opponent has the best shooting guard in the league.... I mean they are both lights out.
Catch this...... 1/2 time score is 13-12.

Walking back to the locker room I ask one of my assistants..... "fire and brimstone or Xs & 0s...... he gives me this funny look... anyway, I ask him to get me a cup of water (yep, another water trick) he comes in the locker room with a hanful of cups filled with water. He hands me one, I take it, turn around and drink it and take off my sport coat.

So where does he put the rest of cups of water? Right in the middle of the room on the floor....... yes, you guessed it, I walked right through all of them. I had tan pants on, I was soaked up to my knees. I look around the room, the kids are biting their lips and / or covering their mouths.

I look around the room and say to them...."so much for my walking on water trick." Of course now they are roaring - at my expense. I wrote a few things down on the board and we went out to the floor. Me with wet pants ... arrrgghhh! We ended up beating them by 36 points.... what a great coach!! LOL

The reporter talked to me after the game and asked me what I said to them.... I told him that he wouldn't believe me... he said he would and that he would print it. I told him the story and he was laughing too.... he did print it. Amazing what kids can do when they are relaxed.

Tell your daughter to hang in there, keep working on her game..... get better every day and make it impossible for the coach to NOT put her on the varsity.

Good luck


Melani Donald says:
10/15/2013 at 5:15:56 PM

Sorry for the delayed response Ken. LOL That was another hilarious game time story and you are right, the laughter is helping us get through this craziness with my daughters bball coach/program. Wish you were her coach:)

Thanks for all of your wisdom and the stories. She is still hanging in there, working hard and staying positive. She has a great bond with the girls on the var team and when she plays in the jv game (helping out), she dominates completely. It's apparent, she no longer belongs on jv. When she plays with varsity it's challenging but you can tell that's where she belongs. So we have a few more weeks to go and by then, she should know where she will be.


Ken Sartini says:
10/15/2013 at 7:19:26 PM

Melani -

I'm glad that you enjoyed the stories... and of course winning the games makes them a lot funnier.

Your daughter's patience is being tested... along with yours. I would be surprised if she didn't make the varsity team after all of this.

Maybe the coach is trying to make her a leader? See how she reacts under adversity??
Like I said before, us coaches are a weird group at times LOL

I wish her well and I hope she has a great season..... let us know how it goes.


Melani says:
10/21/2013 at 7:26:56 PM

Thanks Ken! As soon as she finds out. I will let you all know :)


Concerned Parent says:
11/5/2013 at 1:25:57 AM

Hi Ken,

Well I'm finally here to tell you that my daughter received the news she has been waiting for....

She made the varsity team!!!! YES!!!

Phew... What an ordeal. After weight training today, the coach called her back into the weight room after everyone left and said to her "Congratulations, you made the varsity team. Keep up the good work" The assistant coach told her she would get her varsity locker in 2 days.

She is estatic and I am very happy for her. Thanks Ken for all of your support, stories and wisdom. It all really helped us tremendously to get through all of this... Now she has to try to earn some playing time LOL..


Ken Sartini says:
11/5/2013 at 9:40:52 AM

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

I cant figure out why that coach was playing with her mind........ we can be strange birds sometimes.

I'm glad that I could help you through this... key word HELP.... you and your daughter especially were the ones that got it done!!

Playing time is another thing.... very simple.... each and EVERY DAY in practice and games - prove to the coach that YOU are the one that should be on the floor, especially in CRUNCH TIME.... which is when it counts.

REBOUND #1 - Get as many loose balls as you can. #2.. some people call them 50-50 balls... Bull......... I wanted more like 70-30 IF not all of them.... I guess I was greedy and didn't want to share LOL

Let me know how this goes and I will dig into my archives to see if I can come up with another good story when things are getting tough.


Concerned Parent says:
11/7/2013 at 12:45:40 PM

Sorry for the delayed response....


Thank you so much... I think the coach was evaluating her work ethic. There was another junior who was playing with varsity in fall league withmy daughter, and the other girl did not make the varsity roster. She was placed back with jv. She did not have the same work ethic as my daughter.

The coach already hinted to my daughter that the her defense needs to get even better because that is what is going to get her playing time, NOT her offense ( I want my daughter to prove him wrong), but everyone knows that defense and hustle is my daughter's strength. She is not a shooter (although she will shoot when she needs to). She also rebounds.

I'll continue to update you and I will be asking for another story soon LOL....


Ken Sartini says:
11/7/2013 at 1:19:01 PM

CP -

This guy is some treat...(probabloy what a lot of people were saying about me)." everyone knows that defense and hustle is my daughter''s strength" I think we figured him out this summer.... maybe he is just challenging her so she will work hard to be the best player she can be? IF I were you, I wouldn''t push her too hard about scoring... it might not be in the coaches game plan.... but take the easy shots.


He had her cover the other teams best player.... how did that work out for her? Did she do well... try to answer as just someone in the stands

Not sure we talked about my coaching style... A parent once told me that my coaching style was a little to the left of Attila the Hun. LOL
There is a smiley for you ...... :-) IF you need another one.... when I first met this boy with Cancer and became his pen pal... we talked a lot on the phone.... one night I was going to a ball game and he said.... " You know I don''t want you out in public. " LOL He was maybe 5??

Well, IF she can rebound, just put the ball back up and in if its a offensive one... defensively, chin it, pivot and outlet the ball and run the floor. Get to the block fast and you might get some easy ones.

A few things here.... she needs to stop worrying about him so much... as long as she is doing what he is teaching. Play with confidence and she will play better AND remember to have some FUN.


Concerned Parent says:
11/8/2013 at 4:49:39 PM

Yes Ken you are right... "he is some treat" LOL Thanks for the smiley:)

Just found out from talking to the jv coach that she knew the whole time that my daughter was going to make varsity, but she (the jv coach) could not say anything to my daughter. All I could say was WOW!!!

What you just described is what my daughter does. She takes the easy shots and leaves the low percentage shots for the "shooters" she primarily gets her points off of put-backs and lay-ups from stealing the ball on a fast break or getting to the block fast.

She is smiling from ear to ear now and is having fun because she is where she wants to be. Since practice has started for the season, things are more intense during practice, the coach is even harder and she is taking it in stride:)


Ken Sartini says:
11/8/2013 at 8:02:17 PM

Talk about head games.... I am still trying to figure out what he's doing. We are all a little different you know. LOL

Good for her, he is trying to make everybody better I would imagine. Your daughter can try to be a leader on and off the floor. Keep smiling and work hard.

I always tried to make my practices harder than games.... 6 - 7 guys on defense.... kept us moving and working harder to get open. My rule was, do not throw the ball away, take a 5 second call before you do that. We can play D on balls they inbound.... cant defend breakaway dunks lol

You might like this story... great coaching strategy.... I had a 6'7 player that wanted to shoot 3s, of course I was having none of that.
But I changed a play so that he could step out and shoot a 3 ball, practiced it at least once a day but never ran it in a game. He was happy and so was I !@!!


Concerned Parent says:
11/11/2013 at 5:13:48 PM

LOL well at least practicing the play in practice gave him the opportunity to shoot his 3 ball lol. Awesome strategy Coach Sartini lol....

The team practices 6 days a week. My daughter just had to tell the varsity coach that she will miss 3 practices next week because she has to go on an overnight retreat for one of her classes and the retreat is REQUIRED. If it were her choice, she would not go. She was worried the coach would be mad and kick her off the team.

When she told him, he was irritated, but understood that the retreat is for a grade. There were no other dates available for the retreat except in February where she would miss games...


Ken Sartini says:
11/11/2013 at 6:10:28 PM

I am a crafty ole bird... or sneaky, take your pick LOL

I'm glad that her coach understood, its something she has to do.... bottom line, academics come first.

I kept some kids that maybe I shouldn't have, but I had the luxury of having 5 levels at our school. Frosh A & B, Sophomore, JV and Varsity. One year this small sophomore came into my office and sat down, tears in his eyes... tells me that he was not coming out for the team next year. I asked him why and he said, in case you haven't noticed I am 5' tall... I told him that I didn't care, its what is in your heart that counts... you are a good kid, someone that can be a leader to the lower levels.... the kind of kid I want in my program. He stayed for the next two years.....

He is a lawyer now.


Concerned Parent says:
11/13/2013 at 3:11:15 AM

That's great you had 5 levels... There are 4 levels on the boy's side at daughter's school, but the number of girls playing basketball is dwindling.

Wow a lawyer now!! You are an inspirational coach!!

I think I have another head game story for you. Tell me what you think:

Daughter came home today and announced that she is sure she will be riding the bench this year. I asked her why she thought that. She said that since official practice has started, she has not been rotated in to practice the offensive plays.

She says that when ALL of the other players practice the offensive plays she has to remain on defense at all times. She is the only person on the team who is not allowed to practice the offensive plays. (even a girl who is leaving the school in December is allowed to practice the offensive plays)

Luckily my daughter knows the plays already. This just does not make sense to me. We both figured that her playing time would be limited, but doesn't she still need to practice the plays? I was thinking that the coach is doing this because my daughter is the last person to make varsity.... Just guessing.

Would you or have you done anything like this in the past with your teams? is this normal procedure or is this another head game? Thanks!


Ken Sartini says:
11/13/2013 at 3:58:54 PM

Cp -

I read this and re read it several tmes.... just trying to figure this out. From a players standpoint, a parent's standpoint and from the coaches.

If this was me, I would have probably left her on the JV team so she would get some playing time.

My advice is for your daughter to work as hard as she can in practice to prove that she deserves some PT on both ends of the floor.

Is he doing this because she has to miss some practices or games due to academic things? I don't know. It seems like she has a good relationship with the asst. coach... have her sit down and talk to him/her about what she needs to do and ask why she doesn't get any offense time on the floor.

I would be interested in his answer.


Concerned Parent says:
11/13/2013 at 4:50:24 PM

Ken,

It is very hard to figure out. The problem with keeping her on JV is the fact that she is far more advanced and has already started all games and dominates all JV games so there is no challenge, nor any development. She is a junior this year.

Also, she is clearly better than some of the players on varsity now. The players I am referring to are seniors. I am not speaking solely from a parent's eye. I'm going by what other people tell me as well. Since those players are seniors they will play ahead of my daughter. When she played with varsity during fall league she really showed that she is capable of playing with varsity and really contributing. Remember, they put her on the opposing team's best player.


That's why I feel as if the coach is playing head games. She has to earn her spot and I think he is telling her, you can not just come on this team and play right out (good or not).

Currently, there are 6 seniors on the team and 4 juniors. My daughter should be starting next year, but how is she going to develop if she can't practice the offense????

It's still very early and we don't know what can happen in the course of the season. I will tell her to continute to work hard and if things don't change, will have her talk to the coaches. I really like to get your point of view because you have a lot of coaching wisdom. I guess since she is happy that is all I should care about :) Thanks!


Ken Sartini says:
11/13/2013 at 7:41:20 PM

She is happy and that is important.... she is going to figure this out now.... "how am I going to get some playing time?"

I hope things work out for her... and you so you can have some peace of mind. I guess we can't protect them forever can we? :-)


Concerned Parent says:
11/13/2013 at 9:45:32 PM

You're right,,, We can not protect them forever and I agree that it is time for her to figure it out on her own and I hope she does.

Honestly, I'm not going to worry about it. Things have a way of working themselves out,

Again, thanks for everything Ken and I will drop you a note when it's time for another story or if I have an important update :)


Ken Sartini says:
11/14/2013 at 9:37:15 AM

I hope things work out for her... I gave you my best stories... I will have to dig deep in the archives for any that good. LOL

Good luck


Tammy says:
12/18/2013 at 10:27:25 AM

Thanks for the advice. I am a volunteer coach for my daughter''s 8th grade team. No other parent was willing to coach. I agreed to do it when asked by the athletic director. I have 9 girls on my team. this is my 2nd year and I have two very critical parents. They send me not very nice emails, are very loud and critical in the stands, tell their daughters what to do on the court, and tell me who I should give the least amount of playing time to. Unfortunately, it is making my job very stressful. Practices are difficult because their daughters do not respect me and games are hard because their daughters are going against the team plan. I am standing strong and holding my own, but it sure makes coaching harder than it needs to be.


Ken Sartini says:
12/18/2013 at 4:17:22 PM

Tammy -

Welcome to the wonderful world of coaching... there are so many good coaches in the stands..... they never lose a game.

I would sit down with those girls and explain to them what they need to do IF they are going to get any playing time. IF they are purposely going against your philosophy and what you want done on the floor and in practice... #1 don't start them, #2 cut their playing time or let them sit for a couple of games until they come around to your wishes. MAKE SURE THAT YOU DISCUSS THIS WITH THE AD FIRST

I think that if this were me, my 1st step would be to meet with them and explain what you are trying to do.... ask them IF they would like to help out as long as they are willing to be on the same page. You can be open to suggestions if you want.

The next step would be to talk to your AD and discuss the situation... maybe have a meeting with him and the ladies in question

Good luck


Dawn says:
12/25/2013 at 11:12:23 PM

I coach a fifth grade girls basketball team for my daughter's team. We are a small town and I did not grow up here and neither did my husband, which, by all standards of the "locals", makes me an outsider. In all other activities that my children have been involved in, I have not had any problems. I took over this team this year after fourth and fifth grade seasons where the girls were undercoached by a young gal who lacked coaching ability and understanding of how to teach the fundamentals needed for fifth grade.
Needless to say, though most of the parents are glad and appreciative of having a coach with a new philosophy, it has become grossly apparent that one particular parent (who grew up in the small town) is not appreciative of the new philosophy. I have no issues with her daughter; in fact, she is one of my best players. This mother's issue is with MY daughter, who is also one of the better players on the team. My daughter is very aggressive player and does get emotional when playing, but not to a point that I consider unsportsmanlike. The other mother does not agree.
My question is: do I worry about this? She will only engage conversation with me via email or messaging even though I have made it clear several times that I wished to speak with her in person. How do I engage her in conversation without coming off as an attack? I have an assistant coach who grew up with her in this town but she does not attack her.
Please help!


Ken sartini says:
12/26/2013 at 11:39:42 AM

I don't know whether or not you have done this before the season, maybe you could write a little something about your philosophy of the game...fundamentals, how to play the game and having fun...... Along with getting theme ready to play at the next level.

Maybe another short paragraph regarding how you will deal with things. If anyone has any problems please call me and we will set up a time where we can meet to discuss the situation. (If you think the situation might get out of hand, involvethe AD or whoever is in charge)

After that I would not answer any more of her emails or other types of messages. JMO

Take a look at the article above and look at some of the points that could help you, good luck.


Player says:
1/8/2014 at 10:30:12 AM

Ok so there is a parent of a girl on the basketball team who thinks they can do a better job than the coach. He used to coach the girls in junior high. The girls are just younger and aren''t used to the competition. But the actual coach is good and has been doing this job well for years.
This other guy held a practice for the girls on a Saturday and didn''t let the HS coach know. I find this very inappropriate. What are peoples thoughts on this?


Ken Sartini says:
1/9/2014 at 11:29:22 AM

Player -

Plain and simple, this is wrong! IF there is an Athletic Director, I would call and make an appointment with him and explain the situation... if you don't - call the coach and let him know that you would like to talk to him about something. Make an appointment when he is available and then tell him.

IF this is allowed to continue, it could destroy the team and maybe the coaches career.


Bearpawjoe says:
1/20/2014 at 10:22:13 AM

Our small high school team has 5 players that have been practicing with the team. All 5 were academically ineligible 1st semester and are now are academically eligible. How would you handle the situation as parents and players are asking how the coach is going to sort out playing time and starting spots.


Ken Sartini says:
1/20/2014 at 11:08:23 AM

Bear -

All I can tell you is how I would handle this... you say these players have been practicing the whole 1st semester? So, at least they know what's going on and understand the system.

I wouldn't just put them in a starting role, they would have to earn that by playing and practicing hard, and beating someone out of his position. I would give them some playing time if they earned it.

Every coach handles things differently, but it is his right to make that decision. Hopefull he will make them earn playing time and then a starting role if they can. I take it that you are a parent? IF I was in this situation, I would tell my son to work hard and make sure that no one takes my playing time away.... or at least NOT ALL OF IT.

Give those kids some credit... they practiced the entire semester knowing they were not going to play, they worked hard and got their grades up. No one should hold that against them.... they already paid their dues.

My second year at our high school, we had one kid who was ineligible the first semester.... he worked hard in practice and and got passed the first semester, now he was eligible..... he got his share of playing time, I cant remember if he ever started, but he did play. Head coaches decision.


Troy Grimes says:
2/5/2014 at 11:55:25 PM

Tonight I received an email from a parent (who also happens to be the AD) with the following question:
Why has Hunters playing time went from a lot to nothing? And why does he have no confidence?

That is all that was in the entire email. Any advice?

Thanks


Ken Sartini says:
2/6/2014 at 9:56:20 AM

Thats a tough one, especially since he is the AD. I would tread lightly with this one. I wonder what HE is telling his dad?

Since I don't know the entire situation ( or can see it ) I might say something like it does seem like he has lost some of his confidence and it has hurt his game. We are trying to work at this during our practices.

What age group is this? Why has his playing time dwindled? Why has he lost some of his confidence? Have you sat down and talked to Hunter about this? Made any suggestions to him? Just some food for thought here.


Concerned Parent says:
2/19/2014 at 7:46:20 PM

Hi Ken, Hope all is well... Not sure if you are interested, but I wanted to give you an update on how things are going with my daughter.

She is happy with her role on varsity for now.... She gets a little playing time, but it's during what I believe most coaches and bball enthusiasts refer to as (garbage ball). When her team is blowing out another team by at least 18-20 points and it's in the 4th quarter of the game. She understands that there are 6 seniors ahead of her and she has to basically pay her dues.

The coach only goes 8 deep (there are 12 players on the team). The 6 Seniors play the most and the other 2 players who play are Juniors in which one will be the starting point guard next year, so she is the 6th player off the bench. The other Junior is a center. My daughter is a forward and there are 2 seniors ahead of her in that position. The other 4 (who sit the bench) is a Freshman, Sophomore, my daughter and one other Junior.


The team is preparing for playoffs and they have really bonded and should hopefully do well. Parents approach me and say that they don't understand why the coach won't play my daughter more, especially in games where they lost. I just smile and let them know that she will have her turn to get plenty of playing time next year. The coach's system is weird and archaic, but it's been the same thing for 20 years and it works, but he should change with the times a bit. The coach is a very successful coach and has won state a few times.

When the team practices, the coach will always make her the best player on the opposing team and this makes the starters better . In a weird way this has boosted her confidence.

She will run track in the spring and play travel ball in the summer, so there is no bad feelings. She is happy and I think that is the main thing. Thanks again for all of your advice along the way!


Ken Sartini says:
2/19/2014 at 8:09:23 PM

CP -

I'm glad that your daughter is happy now. I love your answer to the other parents. Nice of you to give me an update.

"The coach's system is weird and archaic, but is doing the same thing that has worked for 20 years. The coach is a very successful coach and has won state a few times."

Are they kidding me? I don't care if he is using peach baskets and old leather balls.... he was won the state tourney a couple of times?? Coaches dream of getting downstate to the big games.

The things your daughter is doing in practice is only going to make her better. Does she really know everything that their best player is going to do? She can help her teammates by letting them know if she can get it across to them.

I hope this team gets downstate... it is a dream and a great experience for players and coaches alike.


With the way things are going, maybe you could be a liason between the team / parents and him. Try to get a little parent support group going where everyone can cheer for the team.

You are very welcome, its always nice to be able to give back to the game, players/coaches and parents.Let me know if they make it downstate.


Concerned Parent says:
3/8/2014 at 4:41:06 PM

Hi Ken,

Sorry for the very late response. Been running around to play-off games. My daughter's team lost, so they are now out of play-offs and won''t make the state tournament.

Now it's on to track and travel ball (AAU). I will definitely keep you posted as to what happens next year. She should get a lot of playing time as long as she continues to hustle. She will be a Senior. Take care:)


Ken Sartini says:
3/9/2014 at 1:28:26 PM

Time to move on, work on her game. She should talk to the JV and Varsity coach and ask what she needs to work on to be a better player for next year. Hopefully, they will give her a straight answer.

Ok, here is one more LOL for you .... I had a set of brothers play for me, both great kids and great shooters.

The younger one says he has a story to tell me about his older brother (who was now in college stuying to be a pharmacist) Bear with me.

He tells me that his brother wrote a paper in college about and he were ME never yelling at him... and he wanted to know what it felt like.

So, one day he messes up at practice, I calmly ( yes calmly ) explain how I want it done... we do another repetition and he messes it up again.... I stop practice and calmly ( yes calmly ) explain it again. He proceeds to mess it up again.... so I stop practice and NOT so calmly explain HOW to do it.... and yes, you guessed it, he messed it up again.... and YES, I WAS NOT SO CALM.... I proceeded to go off on him to make it very clear how to do it.

Now he does it perfectly and I don't know how he kept a straight face all this time... heck, he got his wish LOL

When the younger kid got married I confronted him at the wedding and we all had a good laugh. By the way, he got an A on the paper.


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