How did your child’s youth sports coach respond the last time you went to him or her with a problem? Coaches may nod their heads and smile, but there’s always a chance that they are only hearing you, and not really listening.
Coaches hear every parent that confronts them, but there is a big difference between hearing and listening.
The dictionary says that hearing is the act of perceiving sound, while listening is described as paying attention, giving heed to.
Your child’s youth sports coach certainly hears what you are saying, but there’s always a chance that it’s just parental noise to them. Coaches live with the knowledge that there’s absolutely no way to please every parent and sometimes that causes them to shut out complainers.
If you want to be sure that your child’s youth sports coach really listens, then here’s a few ways to make that happen.
Earn Some Credibility
Coaches are more likely to really listen to parents that have proved that they are truly supportive of the team. Parents who are positive, parents who volunteer, parents who encourage the whole team, and parents who support–even if they don’t agree with them–the coach.
Parents who have earned some credibility have a better chance of really being listened to because they’ve earned the respect of the coach.
Choose your Meeting Time Wisely
I can pretty much guarantee that if you choose to confront a coach right after a game, you will not have their full attention. After being married to a coach for 29 years, I know that a coach’s head is still in the game, even if it’s over. Whether it’s a win or a loss, they are still caught up in the emotions of the game and there’s a lot swirling around in their heads. It’s just not an ideal time to be heard in a serious conversation.
Approach With a Question, Not an Accusation
My husband and I tried to avoid running interference to our kids’ coaches, but on the rare occasion that we did, we made a point of asking a question that put the focus on what our kids need to do better, not on what the coach was doing wrong.
How can TJ get on your radar?
What does Cristi need to do to improve her game?
Be careful, though. Some questions are actually accusations in disguise: Why aren’t you playing my child more? Why don’t you let my child play pitcher?
Better yet, let your child talk to the coach!
Talk to the Coach When Nothing is Wrong
If you only talk to the coach when you are unhappy, then they are going to want to run the other direction every time they see you approaching. Take time to get to know the coach; compliment them on the good game, ask how their family is doing, or thank them for coaching your child tonight.
Is it Time to Reprogram Your Child’s Youth Sports Coach?
If you’ve only talked to the coach to complain, then you probably have some reprogramming to do. All they may know about you is that you have a problem with how they coach. If you want your child’s coach to really listen, take time to see them as a real person with their own challenges, frustrations, and joys. Seek to understand, then to be understood.**
If you’re a busy sports mom who feels overwhelmed with life, please come to my free live webinar this Wednesday, 1 pm EST.
**Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People