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Parent Problems | Coaching Children (Ages 5-12)

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Coaching Children (Ages 5-12)

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Posted in: Managing Parents

Parent Problems

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  • Laurenhollowayxx

    Hi All, 

    Looking for some advice on managing parents! 

    We are an under 11s rugby team who have had small numbers of around 12-15 for a couple years. This season we have had around 7 new players come into the game meaning that these players need the development to get better. I try to manage this best I can but when we play a strong team this becomes very difficult. 

    I try to keep subs rolling every 8 minutes but we make around 7 subs a time which obviously messes up any momentum in the game. Do anyone have any advice on how best to manage this. Parents are not happy I am not playing my strongest team and saying that their kids dont want to come because of this. I highly doubt this is the real reason and probably they dont want to come because of the criticism they receive after the game. 

    Parents are undermining my authority and not trusting me in their development of the kids, I am 23 years old with no children on the team just doing it because I care about the kids but I feel like I don't get any appreciation or support for what I do. 

    Kids are asking why we are taking off our strongest players (this is their parent talking) and exactly not what I want to see in players of a team sport! 

    In training the kids are fab and some of the things they pull off. I hardly ever see these things on sundays mainly because of the pressure from parents and the fear from kids to make mistakes. 

    Any advice would be much appreciated or I will be walking away from the team and leaving it to the sideline coaches.


  • dancottrell1

    First, brilliant job. You care about what really matters.

    Second, be prepared that many parents will only think about their own child not the needs of all the children. 

    Third, keep rolling the subs. The team I coached, we did it for 9 years. We lost a couple of players because of it over time, but in the end, it was much better for all the players, and didn't stop one of them being selected for Wales U20s today!

    Continue to set out your vision: A team for everyone. Keep your substitution policy consistent. And don't be swayed by "angry" parents. They can vote with their feet if they want.

    On rolling subs, we used two methods. One was to number off the players into groups of three. So group 1 on, group 2 off, then group 2 on, group 3 off. Or, every player had a number. 1,2,3,4,5 off to start, then, after two minutes change, three players. If a player drops out, then everyone shuffles up a number.

    Don't worry about momentum. This is under 11s. Exposure to match situations is what it is about.

    Be happy to chat 1-to-1 on this. You will also get plenty of support on here!

  • Laurenhollowayxx

    Thanks for the reply dan, do you have a contact number or email so I can talk to you a bit more on this?

  • dancottrell1


  • Daveylatt


    Agree with Dan, well done on recognising this as an issue !

    Coaching young children where parents are 'committed' is hard, you will spend time trying to avoid certain decisions and I found that I spent more time managing parents than the kids.

    For me it was about managing expectations from the start, whether that's pre-season or a new player joining. I set out some ideas that would shape how we trained, played and what they could expect from me and I expected from them. Your club should have a code of conduct for players and spectators, which could help?

    The next key thing is to be consistent and getting the balance right with being flexible enough to adapt when challenges come up. So;

    • Maintain belief in what you want to do and how you want to achieve it
    • Create, and foster an ethos or core principles in how you train and play
    • Be clear in how you communicate this to players and parents
    • Speak to your club about setting player and spectator codes of conduct and grievance policies
    • Be consistent but flexible
    • Self-reflection is valuable, if it doesn't work, why and what can you do to fix it?
  • paulcrocker


    I’m having similar issues with expectations this season in our team sport. They told me after a feedback session they wanted to share the spread of strong and alternated players regularly.... then we started doing well. Better than ever in fact. They changed their mind mid season and wanted to play the strongest team the whole time.

    I had to explain that if we did that, one day, the stronger members would leave and we would have no new players with match experience. It’s the long term plan to benefit the team and let them have a go.

    Next season I plan to lay out the expectations clearly from day 1 (based on feedback from players, parents and coaches) and decide when we’re playing the strongest team and when it’s time to play alternates so everyone expects it. I will also tell them frankly the things that we hear from ‘some parents’ and how it’s not what we expect, that we genuinely care about the team, and I use the strongest players as “mentors” for the other members. Give them the role. They’ll either own it or walk, if they walk it’s more about them than the team and as mentioned above you’re better off without them in that respect. 9/10 they own it.

    I sometimes put it to the team: “who will give up their place so a newer member can gain experience this match?” The captains and vice captains automatically put their hands up as role models, and others follow. It builds the team culture and also sends a message. If I picked them they would think it was because they weren’t good enough, if they volunteer they send a statement to the rest of the team that they are comfortable and strong enough to step aside. It had more power than I expected.


    Hope that helps, in 15 years it’s the same issues, we never solve it, setting expectations avoids any guess work or unwanted advice from parents and definitely helps! 

  • pippaglen


    In all sports this happens and is extremely frustrating, I have actually had this happen to myself and I coach many different sports from basketball, athletics, football and find that in all these sports there's always going to be one of those parents.  I have been coaching for nearly 11 years own and still have to get abuse from some parents but I will now take them to one side and speak with them as regards their attitude. 

    What parents are forgetting that these young players and are still young developing players that have a long way to go, what you will find is those parents that have a passion in the sport and have probably played it themselves forget their children are young and not adults, parents become obsessed over winning whilst thinking that their child is the best and nobody else is. Some parents are stuck on the idea that their children will become the next Jessica Ennise, Usain bolt, Renaldo, David Beckham. This could be possible but the likelihood that in years to come the child might have changed sports.

    You are doing a great job don't let them bully and push you about like I was, now I don't stand for it but there are a few they will still try.  I have coached voluntary for 10 years how many parents do you think would take there time up to help children and young people in sports. Answer not many.

    What is important? what are the players getting out of the games and training? Are the players there because they want to be or are they attending training because of their parents?

    You need to talk to parents at the beginning or end of every training session and advise them of what is happening, keep them in the loop so they know what you expect of them during training and in games. Remember you're the coach it's your time, ask parents to step up and help this sometimes help parents to realize how hard it is to coach children of young ages.

    Make sure your sessions are fun and engaging. 

    You will probably find that most of the players actually find their parents are embarrassing them. Move away from parents to another end of the pitch so you and your players can't hear what they are saying, I have tried this and it works a treat as parents don't want to move. Keep your players focused when half time conversations or when changing players. 

    Hope some of this helps.


    Emma T


  • Ralph
    On 21/01/19 11:47 AM, Rugby Coach 19 said:

    Any advice would be much appreciated or I will be walking away from the team and leaving it to the sideline coaches.

    There’s a reason why, there is always a drama between two opposite states, the two states of individuality and team. Many people but nearly every parent doesn’t get this paradox; are we part of a collective or are we an individual?

    Brexit is a good example of this paradox but the same rule applies well to nearly all situations. General Relativity and Special Relativity.

    After 35 years coaching at all levels, I’ve given up on parents. Few get IT, what teaching children really is all about, including bringing up their own children.

    Why us coaches have to listen to clinically obese, unqualified, inexperienced parents is beyond me.

    Most coaches are better parents to the children than the parents.

    I’ve even mostly given up on Coaches Connect, as it’s full of self-absorbed coaches but your question showed humility and passion together for the children.

    You hinted at the problem, this is not about making the best team, nor is it about showcasing the best players.

    Although this is true, what is left that this is really about?

    The answer is; it’s about making the best squad, which includes all the players.

    You only bring on the subs when you need them means, you’ve already weakened the squad. Those subs, that rarely get a full game, will not be match fit, because you only select the best players and gel them into a good team and the rest of the squad has to be happy with the scraps you throw them?

    A problem you’re wisely avoiding.

    I appreciate, at professional level, this has to be done, but at junior level, this is a mistake.

    But parents won’t get that. Be glad those parents took their little Johnny away, they will be trouble sooner or later.

    Reading between the lines, it looks like you’re not driving home your message to the players and so they are easily influenced by the parent.

    That’s part of coaching, getting the child to stand up to their parent and saying, “You're wrong, this IS what I want.”

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