Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dealing With Parents: Jim Harshaw

Jim Harshaw dealing successfully with sports parentsGuest post by Jim Harshaw

Surveys show that dealing with parents is one of the top most time consuming and frustrating tasks that coaches deal with on a regular basis. 

Having coached for 15 years from youth through Division I, I've spent countless hours researching best practices on dealing with parents. I've read books and blogs, listened to audio podcasts and talked with dozens of coaches about it. Here's what I've found: it all boils down to communication and education. 

While these are simple concepts here are some practical solutions that you can use right away. 
  1. Let Them Talk: Many parents just want to be heard and by letting them talk without interruption you satisfy that need. Acknowledge that you've heard them and will consider their point of view and move on with your day. 
  2. Admit When You're Wrong: We all make mistakes. When we see a public figure make a mistake and try to explain it away or cover it up, we lose respect and end up talking poorly about them and even trying to undermine their authority. When they apologize and face the issue head-on, we are far more willing to give them slack and a second chance. It's the same with you. 
  3. How to Be a Sports Parent: Parents react with emotion instead of logic because they never took a class on how to be a good sports parents. It's your job to teach them things like how to be supportive at home, what kind of nutrition they should be providing and what kind of feedback is actually helpful for you. It will not only minimize the issues you have to deal with but also maximize the performance of your athletes.  
Get many more tips and tactics as well as worksheets and templates in the Dealing Successfully with Sports Parents ebook. Access to this proactive guide will help you spend less time reacting to criticism, responding to emails and looking over your shoulder... and more time coaching. Download it here instantly. 

This is a guest post by Jim Harshaw. In addition to learning how to deal successfully with parents as a youth, high school and college coach, Jim Harshaw learned many life lessons on the wrestling mat. He was a 3X ACC Champion for the University of Virginia, trained at the Olympic Training Center and competed overseas for Team USA. He lives in Charlottesville, Va with this wife Allison and four children.  


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Dave Gan said...

I know this is in vogue, and I am going to be chastised for these opinions, but I am extremely concerned with this style of tackling as a way to increase safety. It is my concern, that if we adopt this style of tackling as the way for safer tackles, we will have an increase in neck injuries. An older coach told me there were a ridiculous number of neck injuries in the 70's and 80's because of the way they taught the shoulder/butt tackle. This is just reverting back to that way of thinking. This is being adopted by High Schools and JFL programs across the state, and in my humble opinion, this is extremely dangerous for our younger kids playing this game. When bending to shoulder tackle as demonstrated, MOST High School and younger players drop their heads. I would argue that this occurrence is due to strength level, and part of that is due to flexibility. In the NFL, and to a certain extent the college game, those coaches have great athletes, with good flexibility, and neck/back/hip strength. Those that don't have those things are trained year round to improve in those areas. At the High School and levels younger, we are not always afforded those opportunities. While I know the argument is to train it, and make them proficient, I know this is not always possible for ALL of the athletes that step on the field or in our drills. Some players are limited physically, some are limited structurally, and some just don't learn as kinesthetically quick as others. I understand this method for the NFL and College, and there push to implement. However, I am extremely frustrated with the descussion surrounding this method of tackling. I know many coaches across the country who are adopting it, and I just want you to consider the cons.