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Cascade Vista Baseball Est. 1963

Cascade Vista Baseball Est. 1963

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Mar, 2018

Parents' roles in youth sports: The Parent-Coach's Role

The first thing you will want to do, as a coach, preceding or following the first get together of the year is to have a parents meeting. During this meeting, it is encouraged that you discuss your goals and expectations of your team's parents, your team's players and even yourself and the coaching staff. It is also important to address the subject of playing time, and often times, local leagues will have rules set in place for coaches to follow. First impressions mean everything, so come in with a positive and excited mindset.

At this parents meeting, it would also be appropriate to bring up the subject of the parents electing a "Team Ambassador," which may sometimes be identified as a "Team Mom." It may be appropriate to nominate an assistant coach to this position, if there is a struggle to find a parent who intends to make every game.

A Team Ambassador can receive training from the league on how to deal with out-of-control parents. If a parent is misbehaving or intimidating a coach, player or umpire, the Team Ambassador should avoid initial confrontation with the parent, but rather get him or her away from the playing area. Why? Because you are then out of earshot of disrupting the game, the disruptive parent may even cool off a little bit during the walk away and he or she won't be able to "put on a show" for everyone else to see. If this parent is abusive or disrespectful, the Team Ambassador should seek action from a league representative (usually a board member) or the police.

Once they are away from the action, let the parent vent and listen. Take notes of all of the reasons why they're upset, and let the ambassador and the coach or whomever discuss it after the game. If nothing comes from this, having a private parent-coach meeting may be in order, and if nothing comes from that, it is time to bring in a league board member to make a determination on the situation and provide some sort of solution.

A model example for other leagues to follow is Long Beach PONY Baseball in Long Beach, California. The league has defined "Codes of Conduct, which parents, coaches, managers and board members all have to sign at registration time and adhere to all season long. League President Ken Jakemer has said Long Beach PONY hasn't has any parental problems for the past several seasons, possibly, because of the expectations set in the codes of conduct.

"We have a league-wide parent meeting before the season where we explain our league, what to expect during the season, address the Code of Conduct documents, etc," said Jakemer. "We hold our managers initially responsible for their players and parents. If a parent is out of line, the umpire will address manager directly to control his fans. If it continues, the umpire may eject the fan, or he may eject the manager for failure to control. For any ejection, we have a review board that will determine the disciplinary action warranted by the actions. Initial penalty for an ejection is a suspension from attending the next game. The league may also implement additional disciplinary action based on the nature of the offense or repeat offenses.

We also have a League Parent Liaison board position whose role is to help address parent concerns and to help calm any issues before they escalate. They will sit in the stands during games and just listen and observe, offering insights as appropriate. They will also step in and advise parents who are nearing the boundaries of their Code of Conduct responsibilities, all in a supportive and authoritative manner. It takes a special person to fill this role properly. If parents continue to be a problem, they could be barred from attending future games. The ultimate action would be to remove the player from the league, which is the worst thing we would have to do.

Take a look at the CVAC's codes of conduct:

Parent Code of Conduct

Players Code of Conduct

Coaches Code of Conduct

As a coach, it is extremely important to adhere to playing time rules and regulations and even find ways to get lower-skilled players opportunities in the infield or hitting higher in the order. Putting the least-skilled player on the team in right field and batting last all game, every game isn't doing anyone any favors, and the beauty of local league play is the chance for players to play multiple positions. If it is an issue regarding safety, that is a discussion better served between you and the child's parent. For example, if little Jimmy is notorious for sitting in the infield and building dirt castles during the game, it's probably best that he doesn't play first base unless the coaches or his parent(s) can motivate him to pay attention. 

Check out this article from Positive Coaching Alliance about managing playing time: here

Along that same line, nepotism will come back to bite you, eventually, so if by being the coach, you are only in it to serve your child, you are continuing to create a negative culture. The same goes for assistant coaches. So play your child in the outfield and let others on the team bat fourth, even if he or she is the best on the team.

Plain and simple, abusing players in any form is unacceptable, whether that be over-pitching a player, forcing them to play through an injury or verbally or physically hurting a player, and often times, you will face consequences for these actions.

Kids notice everything and will emulate what you say and do, so set a positive example by following all of the same recommendations for parents for before, during and after the game, as outlined in article 2. If you are going to expect a high standard from your players and parents (which you probably discussed at your preseason meeting), then they are going to expect the same from you. This means you putting in the time and effort of being the best coach you can be, because it is those coaches who make the biggest impact.

This may mean preparing before and after the season too. PONY Baseball and Softball offers a multitude of resources for its coaches (see the "For Athletes & Coaches" tab), including an official coaching education center that allows for certification. Maybe you subscribe to Dugout Captain to plan your early-season practices and you frequently access USA Baseball's Coaching Education and Positive Coaching Alliance for wisdom and new tactics for your team.


Cascade Vista Baseball
P.O. Box 58362 
Renton, Washington 98058

Email: [email protected]

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