Coaching youth football means you will have to deal with parents. They can make life miserable for you if you don’t handle the situation well. Don’t get me wrong, lots of youth sports parents are great people with the best of intentions, but there are others who are there to cause drama or try to manipulate you to give their son preferential treatment.
Why not have a point of contact that deals with these issues for you? I like to call this person the Mayor. The Mayor is an outgoing person that communicates well and enjoys working with parents. He may be someone who enjoys the personal interactions and relationships with the parents or maybe someone who enjoys the challenge of solving problems.
He can be your spokesperson and communication arm of your program. He communicates all the logistical issues to the team and parents. Things like equipment, uniforms, fund raising, game times and practice times are all on him. He is also is a coach, that is important. Give him the title of assistant head coach or something similar. Parents have to view him as an extension of you, someone with power. He may do very little in practice, but parents have to see him as a coach who has your ear. He is also your second voice.
The mayor mingles with the parents in pre-practice and even through warm-ups. Parents need to know that is their time to open up to him about any issues they are having. The mayor is your liaison to the parent, the biggest part of his job is to just listen. Listening can help parents let a little steam off and make sure small problems don’t become large ones.
Most youth football parent problems can be solved by just listening. These conversations don’t involve making a decision or even offering advice, many parents just want to vent or be listened to. There are conversations that involve the minutia of logistics, these are easy ones for your mayor. Then there are small issues like playing time, positions, upcoming missed practices or even some motivational issues that the Mayor can solve without bringing them to you your attention.
I’ve found about 90% of what parents bring up to the Mayor, he can solve with zero input from the head coach. Some of you are saying, this is what I have the team mom for. Yes, she often times does fill this role, but when this person is on the coaching staff, he has more power to resolve many of these issues without ever bringing them to your attention. Many parents view the team mom as an extension of themselves, not the coaching staff.
Anything real serious the Mayor can easily defer and let the parent know he has to confer with you first. In those cases you strategize with the Mayor and come up with a solution that can in most cases be communicated by him to the parent. If the situation requires your involvement, make sure the Mayor is at your side for help, potential verification and possible follow up. The whole goal of the Mayor is to take this burden off your plate and put it in the lap of someone that is skilled at solving these type of issues.
Dealing with unreasonable parents can rob coaches of the joy they get from seeing kids develop. You’re coaching youth football do you really have the time to be that person? Look for a Mayor and make him part of your staff.