Often times, hockey coaches are surprised to find that the most difficult part of their job isn’t coaching the kids. No, instead, it’s dealing with the parents. A lot of the time, the kids will be easy and fun to work with…while the parents are nightmares. That’s sad but true.
To prevent this from happening, it’s always smart to hold a special parent’s meeting at the beginning of the hockey season. In this meeting, you can and should lay down some ground rules for how the parents are expected to behave and what types of things will be tolerated and what types of things will not. It is important to be very firm but polite during this meeting because this is the point where you either earn or lose the respect of the parents, and the outcome can make a huge difference in terms of how the rest of the season goes.
During this meeting, be sure to remind parents of how much of an impact they and their attitudes have on their children. Guilt trip them if you have to! Encourage them to maintain positive attitudes and model good sportsmanship, positive conduct, and respect for game officials for the children. Let them know that there will be consequences when these expectations are not met, and lay out what these consequences are.
This is also a good point to let parents know that you do not want to hear arguments or complaints about “ice time” or who is getting more of it than someone else. Ask the parents to trust and support your decisions as a coach and, in turn, to support their children.
There is no guarantee that following these tips will lead to a perfect season in terms of your interactions with parents. In fact, it probably won’t. But, following these tips and establishing firm ground rules upfront can lead to more positive parent interactions than negative and a smoother season in general.