As a parent, we want to build relationships with the instrumental figures in our children’s lives, including the high school coach. From the classroom, to the soccer field, and beyond, coaches play a huge role in our children’s lives. The better our relationship is with the coach, the better our child’s relationship will be with the coach. But it isn’t always easy, as parents and coaches sometimes butt heads, resulting in many high school coaches leaving the profession because of being harassed by parents. How do you, as a parent, build an effective parent-coach relationship? You start with putting yourself in the shoes of a coach.
We spoke with Coach Nathan Murphy for insight on what coaches want parents to know. Coach Murphy was the assistant coach of the Seabreeze Boys Soccer team for the 2015/16 season, and Head Coach from 2016 through 2018. During his time as Head Coach, he didn’t just coach, his Sandcrabs made waves. Under his leadership, the Sandrabs won the Class 3A State Championship 2016/17 season, which was the school’s first state championship in 24 years, and for the 2017/18 season they were the State Champion runner up. Coach Murphy was named the 2017 Florida Dairy Farmers Boys Soccer Coach of the Year for outstanding coaching, making him the first Volusia/Flagler coach to receive this award since 1993. Spectrum Sports Coach of the Year, Volusia County Coach of the Year, Five Star Coach of the Year, received for team-building and program strength, 2017 and 2018. So here is what Coach Murphy had to say:
Keep Your Kid Coachable
As parents, you want the very best for your kid. Sometimes, parents get in the way of that by making their child un-coachable. The best way to keep your kid coachable, and keep them that way, is to respect the coach. When you respect the coach, your kid will too, but when you discredit the coach, your child will do the same. As a parent you may do this without even know you are doing it. It may be something as simple as discussing a tactic that you don’t agree with, or saying you don’t like a substitution the coach did. This causes your child to do the same and they could no longer feel compelled to listen to or respect the coach, thus making your child un-coachable. This issue will be contagious and spread to other members of the team harming the entire program. Watch what you say in front of your child about the coach.
The Coach Wants What Is Best For The Team
You want the best for your child, and so does your coach, but the coach also wants what is best for the team. At times this can and will conflict with what you feel is best. Remember, a coach’s job is to help your child grow as a person and a player, but this also includes telling your child some hard truths that they do not want to hear. In these moments, remember, the coach is less biased and sees things you wouldn’t see. This might be as small as a lack of leadership in practice, during a game, or in the locker room. What you think is best may be based on a sliver of knowledge of what the coach knows and sees. So trust in his or her decision to make the best decision for the team. Though you might not think so, the coach IS on your side, and on your team.
Part of the coach’s role is effective communication, and any coach that is worth their weight in gold understands that the most effective way to communicate is to use the same lingo that their players use. Here’s a secret, your high school child curses. Here’s another secret, high school coaches curse, not all of them, but a lot of them do. It happens, get over it! Coaches get emotional in the heat of the moment, this could be a reaction to a dirty play, or to just get their players hyped up. This does not mean it is okay for a coach to curse out a kid or curse out the team for losing. There is a difference. So for the meaningless profanity that gets tossed around in sports, as long as it is not directed at your child, loosen up.
There are many times you may not agree with the coach, but don’t interfere. More than likely you are not looking at the big picture, you are probably just seeing what is affecting your child. If you interfere, you can hold your child back from a teachable moment. It is not your responsibility to address the coach concerning playing time or other related issues. If you child takes issue with something encourage them, instead of you, to speak with the coach. This teaches your child personal responsibility and encourages communication with the coach. It does not help if you as the parent interfere. More importantly, by doing so, your child learns nothing about respectful dialog and conflict resolution.
It’s not all just about sports. Coaches want their players to succeed on and off and the field, but they can only do so much. Whether your child wants to play college sports or not, is not important. What is important is academics. There are few players that are good enough to play at the collegiate level, and even less that can play at the professional level. Academics will take your child further, and open more doors than sports. The better the academics, the better the chances are that your child will be accepted to a college. Although division three schools do not give sports scholarships, they do give academic scholarships, and that is only possible with decent grades. Parents should not let sports overshadow academic performance and encourage children to make academics a priority.
“Great coaches are great humanitarians. They really care for the athlete as people first and athletes second. This is paramount in gaining respect.”
Coach Murphy approached his team as family, and encouraged his players to treat their team members as their brother or sister, and each team member needs to be there for each other, on and off the field . It teaches children how to trust and be accountable to each other. By extension, it makes the coach more than just a coach, they become a secondary father/mother figure. Your child is going to look to the coach for more than just advice about how to improve their game, they are going to seek life advice because of the trust that is created. This in turn allows the coach to nurture, motivate, and encourage your child. That is important to understand as a parent, because the coach cares about your child and your child cares about the coach.
The game is about more than winning. It’s about the process. Progress should be made after every game, regardless of the result, and if you have not learned something after each game or training session, then you have wasted your time. You learn from the process and how you play the game. Coach Murphy discourages any type of play that you can’t make progress out of, like flopping. Foremost, players that flop, look like idiots (and that’s not just Coach Murphy’s opinion, it is why many Americans hate soccer). So yes, sometimes flopping may get a penalty in the box, but other times it will not. It’s not all about winning, it’s how you get there and maintaining your integrity.
So next time you think the coach isn’t on your side, remember the coach has a vision, and it is one you may not see. For it is exclusively the coach’s job to see the potential in your child and his team. Trust in the process and allow the coach to motivate your child to get them to their highest potential.
See You Soon,