Guest Author - Lori Collvins
One of the hardest parts about coaching is having to deal with fans and parents of your basketball team. Here is some advice about what to do and what not to do.
What to do? Listen to them.
What not to do? Listen to them.
Okay, now that I have everyone's attention and (possibly your anger), let me explain. Parents and fans are going to talk to you and that is just the plain and simple truth. After all, you are the one in control of their child/team in whatever way they are involved in the sport of basketball. Some are going to praise you nonstop and some are going to gripe at you nonstop. You will hear questions, demands, suggestions, compliments and much more as a coach so be prepared to deal with these things.
What to do? Listen to them. When someone has a complaint, the least you can do is listen to it. How you respond will make a big difference in your relationship with them and possibly with the child also. They may have a suggestion for a warm up or a play. In fact they may have a good suggestion but you may have heard so many things over the years that you automatically ignore them while appearing to listen to them. And you may just miss the chance to try something that really works well.
What not to do? Listen to them. I do understand that there are people out there that will complain constantly and about things that cannot be changed. For example, why are you not playing my son/daughter more? Well the truth may be that their son or daughter is one of the most uncoordinated children you have ever seen but that doesn't change the fact that he/she is close to perfect in their eyes. Do not take these things personally or you will end up hating the job you are doing because of the stress. If you feel like you have to respond, which you should, then try to do it in a way that encourages them to get their child to practice at home more. If you find you cannot deal with this particular person because nothing you say satisfies them, then you may have to avoid them altogether but only if absolutely necessary and only if it because the situation IS not changeable and not because you have your mind "set" and that is that.
Being a coach is a tough job, especially if you take things personally. Tactfulness is a priority when dealing with people. I personally do not like to see a coach who gets mad if you make any suggestion at all or ask him why he does something a certain way. It is arrogant and unprofessional.
The coach is one of the most important representations of a school that there is. The players reflect your attitude whether you realize it or not. If you yell at the referees, stomp your feet and throw your clipboard down repeatedly in disgust, the players are going to think that they can stomp, scream and throw things also. Do you really think you can get onto them for doing the same things you do? I have seen coaches who literally throw themselves down on the floor on their knees with their head back and their hands on each side of their head because a player did something wrong. Coaches who threw their clipboards down so hard they broke them. Coaches who repeatedly argued with the refereees right up to the point of getting a technical foul and trust it is embarassing. To the team, to the fans and to the schoool that you represent.
In dealing with parents adn fans, professionalism is a must. There are some great coaches out there and some horrible coaches, just like every other aspect of the game has great and horrible participants. So if you want to be or you are a coach, then coach with your heart in the game but don't forget to use your head. Do the best job you can in the best way can and that in itself will make people easier to deal with. If they respect your attitude, they will respect you.
See you on the court!