Coach Tip #1: “If your child has a grievance or a need, insist that they talk to us before you will.”
I heard this over and over. If a student is in middle school or high school, the coach cringes if the parent comes to raise an issue that the coach hasn’t heard about directly from their child.
Why? Well, one of the most important character traits of any person (especially any athlete!) is growing up and taking responsibility for yourself and your actions: to work hard, address things directly, and be willing to work on your own game and your own self wherever needed.
Allowing your student to hide behind your skirts while you go discuss their concern with the coach teaches the opposite lesson: that it is okay to complain, talk about others behind their backs, and expect someone else to fight your battles. Soon enough, the coaches said, the student who learns that lesson will start complaining and whining to the coach and their fellow players: about the other team, those mean referees, that worn out equipment, and then, inevitably, other students on their own team.
As one Varsity coach put it, “This isn’t so much for younger kids, but if the athlete is in middle school—and especially in high school!—let the student try to work it out first. Give them the empowerment to grow up. Say “You can do it; go talk to the coach first. You handle it, and then if you need my support afterwards, I’ll help.” A middle schooler will not have tact in how they approach it, and that is okay. It is still important to try it. That’s how you learn.”