As both a coach and a father, I want to offer my 16 Rules for Basketball Parents:
- Parents… you must embrace the fact that this is your child’s journey – not yours. Do not live vicariously through them. Put your focus on being a supportive and encouraging
- Parents… it’s true. Coaches do play favorites. They favor players who give the team the best chance to win, who have great attitudes, who work hard every day, who embrace their role (regardless of what that role is) and who support the program’s culture. If you think a coach doesn’t ‘like’ your child; your child is more than likely deficient in one (or more) of these areas.
- Parents… as far as playing time goes, coaches want to win. They want to win badly. If your child will help them win… they will play. If not… they won’t. Period.
- Parents… more often than not, your child’s coach is in a better position to evaluate and determine appropriate playing time because they see They see workouts, practices, meetings, film breakdown and games (where as most parents get an incomplete picture because they only see games).
- Parents… more often than not, through both experience and professional development, coaches usually have a better basketball IQ and general understanding of the game then parents do (so questioning a coach’s X’s & O’s or their ability to judge talent is inappropriate).
- Parents… stop coaching your child from the sideline. The only ‘voice’ a player should receive instructions from is the ‘voice’ of their coaching staff. Cheer for them all you want, but do not coach That isn’t your job.
- Parents… you love your child more than anything in the world. You always want what is best for them (which is understandable and respectable). However, a coach’s obligation is to do what is best for the team. In many instances, what you want for your child and what is best of the team is not congruent.
- Parents… you should never push to discuss playing time, strategy or another player with your child’s coach. Ever. Those 3 domains are sacred ground.
- Parents… politicking will never get your child more playing time. I promise you, this statement has never been said by a coach in the history of high school basketball, “I really need to start playing Jeffrey more because his mom thinks he isn’t playing enough.”
- Parents… you should encourage your child to communicate any issues, questions or concerns they have (or you have) directly with their coach by having them schedule a meeting. It is my belief, as a parent, you have the right to attend that meeting, simply as an observant, but the discussion should be between your child and the coach.
- Parents… do not undermine your child’s coach in the car ride home or at the dinner table. Subtle, passive aggressive comments like ‘Your coach doesn’t know what he’s doing’ or ‘I can’t believe you don’t play more’ do not comfort your child (although I am sure that is your intention) – it enables them to have a bad attitude and to make excuses… both of which are unacceptable.
- Parents… if your child isn’t getting the playing time they feel they deserve or if they lose a tough game… use that experience as a powerful teaching tool. Teach them how to own it. Teach them what they can do in the future to possibly get a different outcome.
- Parents… stop berating the referees. It sets a bad example and it makes you look foolish. The referees are doing they best they can. More often than not, a referee has a better position and a much better understanding of the rules to make the correct call then a parent does. And I promise you this statement has never been said either, “Can we stop the game? I’m sorry everyone. The loud-mouth mom in the stands is right, her son did get fouled on that last play.”
- Parents… it is highly unlikely that your child will play professionally. In fact, statistically, only a very small percentage of you will have children that play in college. So let them enjoy the journey. Their playing days will be over before you know it. Use basketball as a vehicle to teach the life lessons they will need when they grow up.
- Parents… don’t push your child too hard. It’s OK to encourage. It’s OK to suggest. It’s OK to hold your child to a very high standard of excellence… but don’t force them to ‘get up extra shots’ or get in extra workouts. That has to come from them, not you. If they choose to do those things on their own, be supportive. If they choose not to, if they choose to only do the bare minimum, they will eventually learn a potent life lesson (not make the team, not get much playing time, etc.).
- Parents… one of the best things you can do is develop a quality relationship with your child’s coach. Listen to this Hardwood Hustle Podcast episode (Developing the Parent/Coach Relationship) for some sound advice:
I sure hope this post doesn’t come off as harsh or condescending – that certainly was not my intent. I simply wanted to share some constructive thoughts to help parents thoroughly enjoy the experience of having a child that plays high school basketball. It is an experience I very much look forward to myself. And don’t worry, as the father of the ‘The Born Backcourt’, I will need to take my own advice soon enough!
Enjoy the journey parents!