By Alaina Brandenburger

Youth sports have long been popular extra-curricular activities for many families. Not only do sports such as soccer, gymnastics, baseball, volleyball and others allow children to get a healthy dose of physical activity, but they also build social skills, demonstrate teamwork and teach kids how to deal with pressure. When you enroll your children in sports programs, you will likely be communicating with their coach on a regular basis. By communicating effectively with coaches, you can help to enhance your children’s experience in youth sports. Here are some effective methods that you can use to discuss positive and negative experiences with your child’s coach in a more effective manner.

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Take A Breather

Since sports are often highly competitive, it’s easy to let the pressure build, which doesn’t always allow for effective interactions. Choosing to speak with a coach immediately before or after a game can cause you to communicate while your emotions are running high. It’s more effective to schedule a time to speak with the coach, so you can gather your thoughts and speak to one another in a calm and rational tone.

A report by Dr. Kathy Vierling, PhD, titled “Parents: Communicating with your child’s coach,” outlines why this method is preferred. “If you confront the coach in front of the children or other parents, he or she may become defensive and it may be more difficult to resolve the issue. Instead, contact the coach and set aside a time to meet with him/her privately.”

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Be Respectful

You’re not always going to agree with the decisions made by your child’s coach. There will be times in which you may feel that your child is not receiving a fair amount of playing time, or you simply may not agree with the coach’s methods. However, addressing your concerns in a respectful manner will go a long way toward resolving them.

Boys Town, an organization dedicated to helping at-risk youth, offers the following advice: “… if you let your emotions take control of the discussion, you risk angering the very person – the coach – who can help your child succeed in athletics. So stay level-headed. Understand that the coach must balance the needs of individual players with the collective needs of the team.” You might not like your child’s coach, but approaching him with respect is usually more effective than flying off the handle.

Encourage Your Child To Speak With the Coach

A common complaint of parents with children in sports programs is that their child isn’t playing enough. However, having it out with the coach isn’t usually the best approach to this issue. Your child’s coach may have a valid reason for not putting your child in the game. If your child wants to play more often, it may be beneficial for them to approach the coach directly. This way, the coach can help your child figure out how to improve her skills and potentially get more playing time. If you choose to address the issue with the coach, try approaching the subject from the standpoint of improvement. If you ask for advice rather than approach the coach with a personal attack, it will likely be more effective.

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Communicating with anyone, including coaches, is easier and more successful when emotions are taken out of the equation. One of the most important ways in which you can communicate with your child’s coach is to make sure you have a cool down period before tackling the subject. Always be polite and respectful, and you will likely come away with a more effective conversation on both ends.