Parents and Practice

Earlier today I tweeted a link my head coach sent me from Breakthrough Basketball. The article is titled A Basketball Coaching Guide – How to Deal with Parents the “Right Way” and Avoid Unpleasant Problems. (Click the Link to read the full article). Our program at Fort Myers is very special; we do things very differently than most programs in the area because we hold our players to such a higher level of accountability. With that said, the majority of the suggestions listed in the article we already have in place. However, in years past we have been very strict regarding the attendance of practice my parents.

I think the majority of us highly competitive and micro-managing coaches would NEVER even consider allowing our players’ parents to attend a practice. However, the article does list a few valid arguments on why you should consider it. Below is the excerpt regarding this section:

Now this might sound like a recipe for disaster, but it’s not. Letting interested parents watch practice time will enable them to see how you run the show, how players behave, how you critique, and how you make decisions about who gets to play and who doesn’t.

Most importantly, parents will begin to “buy in” to your philosophy and tactics. As we all know, a big part of coaching is selling. And while you are selling your players on your philosophy, with enough repetitions, the parents will get sold on your philosophies and on you as a coach. Sometimes they just need to get to know you, understand you, and learn about your program. Letting them watch your practices is a great way to do that.

If you let them watch, however, make sure they understand that they have to be quiet.

Just the thought of allowing my players’ parents to attend practice initially terrified me because it is something my father never allowed and it is a rule I have grown up with. Here are a few obstacles you may face by opening your practices;

  1. Players are now practicing and being critiqued not only by the coaches during practice but they could possibly be told something different once they get home. In most cases the players’ parents are the least qualified individuals to begin basketball “critiquing”.
  2. It is aB distraction to the players as they are not only trying to please the coaching staff but also their parents and they will lose focus in practice
  3. Depending on your coaching staffs’ style and delivery (and the new evolution of bullying), your coaching staff could become hesitant to say anything critical or coach as they always have because raising their voices could be taken as “bullying”.
  4. In reference to the first point, it is possible that your players’ parents will begin critiquing what you are teaching and offering suggestions on a daily basis. This is not only distracting and annoying, but if addressed in front of their children the coaching staff could begin to lose credibility to the players.
  5. Last and MOST importantly; it is possible that most of your players may not want their parents to attend practice. Talk to your leaders/captains and get a feel on the subject with them before making a decision. Remember, it is their team too!
  6. This list could go on an on…but I think you get the point.

I do not want you to walk away from this article thinking I disagree with the author of the article and parents should never be allowed in practice. Depending on your program and your relationship with the parents; I think a few rules can be established to make this system function in a mannerly fashion. Below are a few rules that could be enforced to help regulate this process:

  1. Parents must turn of cell phones/pagers/any music and noise making device and not be permitted to talk for the duration of practice.
  2. If a cell phone goes off or they begin talking they are dismissed immediately and lose the privilege of attending practice.
  3. Inform the parents that going in and out is distracting every time the door opens and please keep this to a minimum.
  4. Only allow a certain number of parents (Recommend 3-5) to attend each practice. Parents must request attendance at least 24 hours prior to practice either via email or telephone at school. Coaching staff must give the parent either written or verbal permission to attend to school once they receive the request.
  5. The coaching staff must have the right to close a practice at any time at their own discretion. Either by informing the parents that day they are no longer allowed to attend or by dismissing them at a particular segment of practice.
  6. Open practice only the first week of the season or establish certain practices throughout the year (Maybe only on Saturdays) that will be open and parents will be notified.
  7. ONLY a Parent/Guardian may be allowed to attend (No cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, grandparents, god-parents…etc).

This is just a list of possibly recommendation. All of them do not have to be met and you can always think up your own.

As the school year is coming to an end and Summer hoops will be cranking up soon…take some time to sit down and evaluate your current policies in place and see if any need adjustments. Remember…

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be”
– John Wooden –

Keep bouncin…


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