The Coach and Parent Relationship

Posted on Sep 19 2022

Its almost impossible to be a coach and not have to have some form of interaction with a parent or guardian of one or all of your players, regardless of what level you are coaching at! Remember Lavar Ball in the NBA?

Talking to our coaches who are coming to the 2022 Australian U14 Club Championships, working with parents is one of the most challenging parts of their role and inevitably many coaches will encounter or have encountered similar issues in their career.

So, you can either ignore the relationship as not important to you ( not advised ) or like any other issue you face as a coach figure out how you can make the relationship work best for you and the team.

What is an ideal Coach and Parent/Guardian relationship ?

You should feel happy and fulfilled about your contribution to their Childs development and Basketball experience.

They should have a feeling of satisfaction that they have contributed to their Childs health and basketball development by encouraging their kids to be in your team environment.

Basically, nirvana is when everyone, players included, are enjoying and taking pleasure out of the sport of Basketball! We promise it does happen on more occasions than you might think!

Some parents love to be involved and in many clubs and associations are encouraged because their volunteer support is much needed. Some parents though might see team sport as a child minding service with the Coach as the head Child minder!

Coaches Strategies and Tips

  1. Set Expectations. If the parents are clear right from the start what you are trying to achieve it can help nip any potential tensions in the bud. As a coach make sure you are clear on and can convey how in both trainings and games you are going to approach performance v participation and playing time/positions and rotations you will all be in a much better space. You ultimately want parents to be on board and replicating your messages at home and in the journey to and from the stadium. This positive parental involvement is crucial to setting good examples and helping foster and develop a love of the game.
  2. Use Parents as a resource. The key to this is that this is USEFUL INVOLVEMENT. Treat them with respect and give them a role that makes a meaningful contribution. It does not have to be central to the session or the game but can involve management and organisation on the periphery. As a coach, depending on the age of your team and with the right structure you could involve parents in the warmup as referees or facilitators or as statistic collectors.
  3. Always listen. Even if you don’t agree or have a clarification on their statement, remain calm, let them finish and give them the respect of hearing them out. This will often allow them to release any emotion they feel and allow them to be more rational when you have a chance to respond. If emotions are still too high, it could be best to acknowledge their issue and arrange a time, suitable for you both to discuss it further in private.
  4. Before you respond to a parent’s enquiry make sure you are clear on the following
    1. What is their problem? Can you even solve it? Don’t make promises you can’t keep, that just creates further problems down the line even though it might make the immediate moment more pleasant.
    2. Do they have a point ? Is there something you can change either personally or as a team that will solve this problem and improve the environment.
    3. If you can resolve it what are the steps to do so and how will you communicate these.
    4. If you cannot resolve it be prepared to provide details of someone the parent can talk too if they want to discuss it further.
  5. You aren’t alone. If you have a problem, its 99% likely someone else has had the same problem. It might not be in the same sport or even in the same country but there is probably a coach that has faced it and found a solution. This is one of the occasions where the internet can be very helpful.

Messages to present to Parents

  1. Basketball and sport in general hasĀ  changed from when you were your Childs age. So please have an open mind. Coaching Techniques have been refined, session structures have been altered and improved and the role of the coach might be different to how it was when you played.
  2. Be respectful but comfortable enough to ask for clarification at a time that is suitable to all parties and when emotions are not heightened. Any problems shouldn’t be discussed immediately after a game, arrange a time where a conversation can be had in private with cool heads.
  3. Remember everyone is just trying to do their very best. You will make mistakes but you will do your best to admit to them when they happen and as long as message number 2 is observed you will always be happy to have discussions with them about basketball.

If you have any other suggestions please send them to us at

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