How to speak to youth athlete parents

Communication with athlete parents can be one of the most rewarding and annoying aspects of youth sports.

‘Why is my kid not getting any playing time?’  ‘We are not winning because…’. ‘My kid should be playing quarterback..’. 

Do these parent chirpings sound familiar?

The first step is to ensure each parent signs a code of conduct agreement. In the agreement you will clearly state that parents’ emotions will be in check throughout the entire season. Also important to clearly state, the parents main duty is to be a positive role model, and be a respectful spectator. In the agreement you will also clearly state your intentions, to be fair and do the best job you can to teach football to children. The football parent’s agreement should be revisited several times per season, scan and email the parents as a reminder.

Read-  ‘How to have a winning youth football season guaranteed!’


Now that you have set the ground rules for your football season in writing, it is important to know how to speak with, in many cases, emotionally-charged parents. Start with tonality, speaking in a monotone, relaxed voice usually helps to defuse an awkward conversation and shows that you are in control of the discussion.

When speaking with football parents, do this-
  1. Start positive, on a personal level. Point out the athlete’s accomplishments at football practice. Mention that the athlete has great potential to succeed on the field.
  2. Lead up to making a personal observation. When delivering a criticism, first ask permission. “I noticed your son was having some difficulty at practice, do you mind if I share it with you?”. 
  3. Share details of where the athlete is struggling.
  4. Offer a solution, whether it is extra drills to do at home, or shifting of the athlete’s attitude, here is where you give your best advice to the parent.
  5. Follow up.“Let’s check back in 2 weeks to review progress..”.

To minimize uncomfortable conversations, it is crucial to set the ground rules early, and know how to speak to parents. What were some of your funnier parent complaints? Tell us in the comments below.

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