9 Traits Parents Wish for in Their Kids’ Coaches 4

In this week’s guest post Janis B. Meredith discusses what she wants from one specific type of coach – how many of these are similar to what the people who use your coaching want?

9 Traits Parents Wish for in Their Kids’ Coaches

by Janis B. Meredith

Parents of athletes are not looking for flawless humans to coach their kids. We realize there is no perfect coach.

But we do have a wish list. As a coach’s wife for 27 year and a sports parent for 17, I know what I want in a coach and I’m pretty sure most sports parents would agree. I appreciate a coach who:

1. Speaks honestly in the pre-season. Kids do not want coaches to make false promises of playing time or of how they are needed, or tickle their ears with words like “You will be a leader on the team”—and then not follow through. Coaches should be up front with players about their role on the team.

As a high school softball coach, my husband has had many honest talks with girls before the season about their role on the team. If they will have a back-up role, he tells them so. They may not like what he says, but at least they know exactly where they stand.

2. Keeps consistent with the rules. Moms, dads, and players want a coach who makes all players—yes, even the team star—abide by the same rules. If the team rule is that two fouls in the first half puts you on the bench, then a coach should not bend those rules just because she desperately needs that player on the court. What kind of message does it send if we let an athlete think that they are above the rules?

3. Clearly communicates to parents. Parents like printed practice, game, and team meal schedules. They like having a team parent who reminds them to work the snack bar. They like a coach who plans ahead and then lets parents know the plans. As parents, we’ve got a lot to remember and when coaches take the time to clearly communicate, it lessens the conflicts and confusion in our homes.

4. Clearly communicates to players. I love it when I see a coach who, when he pulls a player out of the game, take a few seconds to coach him. Kids need to know what they did wrong and what they did right. How else will they improve? Trouble is, many coaches will not take the time to do this during the game. They pull a kid, then keep them guessing as to what they did wrong. Frustrating.

5. Pushes and challenges players. My kids’ favorite coaches were ones who challenged them and pushed them to be better players. Neither parent nor child wants a coach who acts as a babysitter and does not help them improve their performance. As a football and softball coach, my husband says that if an athlete does not leave his team as a better person and player, he has not done his job as a coach.

Bill McCartney, former coach of the Colorado Buffaloes says it this way: “All coaching is, is taking a player where he can’t take himself.”

6. Treats players fairly. There’s nothing more frustrating than a coach who pulls a kid out of the game for one mistake, while leaving another player in the game who commits the very same mistake over and over. As parents, we don’t ask for special treatment for our kids, we ask for fair treatment.

7. Encourages players. Personally, I don’t mind a coach who chews on my kid, as long he balances it out with encouragement.

8. Enjoys the kids. A coach who enjoys kids—not just coaching or not just the sport—will have a greater impact on those kids’ lives. Why? Because kids will seek him out. They will be drawn to him, feel comfortable with him, and never feel like they are bothering him.

My husband is one of the best examples of this that I know. He has always loved high school kids. And the kids know it. They never hesitate to come up and talk; in fact, they often seek him out. Because he taught them how to swing a bat? Or block on the line? Maybe. But more likely because they know he likes them.

9. Models positive traits. Parents like to know their kids are in good hands, that they are spending time with people who exhibit good morals, a caring attitude, integrity, and authenticity.

Are we expecting too much from our kids’ coaches? After all, they are parents and teachers and construction workers and lawyers and doctors and grocery clerks—just like us.


I ask nothing more from my kid’s coach than I ask of myself.

About the Author/Further Resources

As a coach’s wife for 27 years and a sports parent for 17, Janis sees life from both sides of the bench. Follow her blog at http://jbmthinks.com, her tweets at jbmthinks and her facebook page at www.facebook.com/sportsparenting.

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4 thoughts on “9 Traits Parents Wish for in Their Kids’ Coaches

  • Dave Doran


    Enjoyed the post. I spent a long time in Sports Coaching, mainly Rugby and agree with all the points raised. I think the key thing with coaching young people is having good communication with the parents. One of the most succesful strategies I had was speaking to the parents on a regular basis to explain what I was doing, not only on match days but with coaching sessions.

    One of the problems with coaching at youth level is that newly qualified coaches are usually given youth teams to coach, which is a bit upside down. My view is that your best and more expereinced coaches should be working at youth level. You only need to look at one of the most succesful football teams, Manchester United, where their best coaches are placed at the most influential levels of a young players development.

  • Wendy Young, LMSW, BCD


    Here, here! I so agree! I want a coach with integrity. He or she is not only teaching my child about the game, he/she is teaching them life lessons, too. I’ve been sitting on bleachers for baseball, softball, basketball, hockey, soccer, football, etc. for the better part of 16 years…and have 8 years more to go.

    I’d add to #4: Be direct. No room for sarcasm when you are working with kids. NEVER! Argh! Biggest pet peeve!

    Thanks! I think this list should be posted to every bulletin board, in every school across the nation!

    Wendy @Kidlutions