How do I resolve concerns with a coach?

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If you have a concern about an in issue with your coach, please follow these steps to achieve the best possible outcome.  Please note that certain issues are not appropriate for discussion such as other students, game strategy or playing time.

Step One – Athlete/Coach Meeting

The first step is for the student to meet with the coach.  I recommend the student make an appointment to have this type of discussion.  The meeting should not be on a game day (before or after the contest).   Two of our most important objectives are to help our students learn to be good advocates for themselves and good communicators. 

Expected Outcome

At this type of meeting, our coaches are expected to communicate clearly with students.  Coaches are expected to create an environment that allows honest dialog.  Coaches are also expected to give students honest feedback about their status.  They must also be able to help students chart a course to improvement – helping them attain their goals.  I can tell you that our coaches typically respond very positively to direct questions and communication with students.

Common Fears and Concerns

Most parents tell me that their son or daughter cannot talk to the coach because they are intimidated by him/her.  They also typically feel that their child is not ready or should not have to be their own advocate yet.  While I certainly understand both of those concerns, our coaches already interact and talk with their kids every single day of the season.   Students who spend time with their parents to prepare and then meet with the coach, almost universally report high levels of success and satisfaction with the outcome.

 

Step Two – Parent/Athlete/Coach Meeting

If the direct student/coach meeting does not have a successful outcome, the next step is to schedule a meeting for the parent and student to meet with the coach.  Regarding all student concerns, there are only two direct parties – the coach and the athlete.  If both are not in the room, resolution is almost impossible. 

Common Fears and Concerns

Most parents tell me that they cannot meet with the coach present because he/she will take it out on their child.   If they are willing to meet with the coach, many parents then do not want their child present.  Parents often say something like, “my daughter would be mortified if she knew I was calling.”

Expected Outcome

At this type of meeting, the same expectations are in place for honest feedback and clear goals and checkpoints for improvement.  If the parents had any issues that were not communicated to them about the previous meeting, those should be cleared up by the conclusion of this one.

 

Step Three – Athletic Director/Parent/Athlete/Coach Meeting

By the time a concern escalates to the administrative level in any area of the school, resolution is usually much more challenging.  By participating in the meeting, I hope to facilitate discussion between the family and the coach to determine the root issues and potential resolutions.

Common Fears and Concerns

Parents are often concerned that the Athletic Director will only support the coach in this type of meeting.  It is true that an important responsibility of our school administrators is to provide the protection and representation afforded to all school employees – but certainly not at the expense of a student.  I do not act as an attorney or judge at these meetings, but I will provide the perspective I have gained as the father of four and from from working with thousands of students and hundreds of coaches during the past two decades.

Expected Outcome

At the conclusion of this meeting, all parties should have a clear understanding of both the issues and perspective of the coach, school and the student and family.  A resolution should be identified.  While the specified resolution is unlikely to be the exact solution desired by all, it will be an appropriate and actionable solution.

 

Additional Steps.  After working through the steps above, nearly all athletic issues can be resolved.  Additional steps include the principal and then the BPS central administration.

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