Youth sports culture has shifted. The days when parents were just glad that kids were out playing with their friends have been replaced with a more outcome-based measurement of success.
The pressures to excel as a student-athlete are at an all-time high. The rising cost of travel teams and private lessons have contributed to the high expectations parents place on young athletes to be the star on the field. Parents now expect a return on their investment in the form of college scholarships, sponsorships, and professional sports.
Unfortunately, those parental expectations end up on many coaches’ plates as well.
“I want kids to have goals and to strive for more, but at the same time, I don’t want them setting unrealistic expectations for themselves and feeling that kind of pressure so early in the process,” said Brandon Buchanan, Head Varsity Baseball Coach at Air Academy High School in Colorado Springs.
“It’s a game in the end and it needs to be fun, but you see a lot of unrealistic expectations turn young athletes against the game due to such high pressures placed upon them,” he added. “Eventually, we see sport participation and interest drop completely.”
Recognizing the consequences that come along with the overwhelming pressure parents put on coaches, Coach Buchanan shares practical ways coaches can manage expectations from team parents.
Creating a positive sporting experience for youth athletes requires a healthy environment where coaches and parents come together to provide support for athletes as they develop into young adults.
“When it comes to the parent/coach relationship, I never ever say that coaches deal with parents, we partnerwith them. Because we both are here for the best interest of young athletes and their kid specifically,” says Buchanan.
Address sport parent concerns by having open and honest communication with your team parents before the season starts, as soon players are chosen after tryouts, mid-season, and another one as the season ends.
“I’m firm believer in over-communication, so I talk to my program quite a bit to keep everyone in the loop, hoping that eliminates confusion and addresses questions that parents or players might have,” adds Buchanan.