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How To Handle A Problem Player And Parent Questioning Coaching Decisions

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This resource stems from a question submitted to the Ask PCA blog. Responses come from our experts including PCA Trainers, who lead live group workshops for coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes.

"I coach a 14-year-old who puts forth great effort and hustle but openly questions my coaching decisions, from lineups to which drills we use in practice. I have told this player my expectations for an appropriate player-coach relationship. Now his dad, who also has openly questioned my coaching decisions, is e-mailing me, wanting to discuss my approach. Any advice?"

PCA Response by Will Jackson, PCA Trainer-Atlanta
Your situation presents a classic example of a coaching frustration wrapped around a grand chance to help a youngster learn some important lessons. Your player's outspoken criticisms and suggestions haven't fallen far from his parental tree; he's simply emulating the behaviors he's seen from his father and the expectations of the parent for providing feedback to coaches.

There are even some positives in his clumsy suggestions to you: he clearly is interested in the game, in improving his team and the roles of his teammates. He just hasn't learned yet how to see things through bigger lenses or how to express his difference of opinion in appropriate ways. It may actually be better that he voices his dissenting views to you now, rather than griping behind your back or spreading dissension within your team.

Speak with him privately about the right ways to disagree. If he wants to talk strategy with you later, be willing to talk things over with him one-on-one. But he should also know that you won't allow conversations that criticize other teammates.

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