By Steve Amaro on August 07, 2014

High school students participate in athletics for a variety of reasons. Some want the benefits of making new friends or become more connected with schools while others look for the physical benefits of better fitness. Not surprisingly, these athletes have parents who are interested in these same benefits; however, parents see athletics from different perspectives that can sometimes put them at odds with schools, athletic departments, coaches, and even their own children. These instances are unavoidable, but coaches can work with parents to create better athletic environments for their teams and communities.

Naturally, parents want the best for their children and when they see their sons and daughters struggles, it can create tension. Here are three ways to gain support of parents and lessen their feelings of entitlement.

Creating Common Ground

Creating common ground with parents and athletes is the first step in creating a positive parent environment. Such groundwork takes place at the beginning or even before the beginning of season at the initial parent/athlete/coach meeting. It is this meeting where coaches need to establish their philosophy and communicate their purpose.

The purpose for every coach may vary somewhat, but coaches need to reinforce the fundamentals of the National Federation of State High School Associations – to  create a learning environment that supports academics prior to any other goal. Far too often, coaches will discuss procedures without explaining the purpose of high school athletics. Coaches may have goals of creating programs which propagate legacy, encourage collegiate participation or even maximize physical potential; however, when they fail to address the connection that athletics supports academic and social growth, some parents will make assumptions that can start discontent andruin entire seasons for an entire school community.

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