10 Types of Sports Parents - WHO ARE YOU?
Here are the different types of sports parents that I would identify – both good and bad:
The Dry Cleaner Parent
The Model Parent
The Competitive Parent
The "Living Through Your Kids" Parent
The Outspoken Parent
The “Coach” Parent
The Critical Parent
The Negative Parent
The Uncooperative Parent
My Child is a “Superstar” Parent
Obviously, the worst parent would be one who exhibits components of the latter nine types. But, once I explain what each of these parent types are, you will probably find that many of your parents fit into one of these categories. They may fit into more than one category as well.
There are two things to remember before you go through these descriptions:
1. Parents may exhibit any or all of these traits to a certain degree. The ones go to excess end up being a concern for coaches.
2. Each of these types of parents can be dealt with,.
The Dry Cleaner Parent
This is the parent that doesn’t care whether their child is involved, but still paid the registration fee in order to get them enrolled. They don’t mind if the child misses practices or games, and they aren’t particularly interested in whether the child wins or loses.
Here is a deeper look at the dry cleaner parent:
- The dry cleaner parent is one that neither supports nor criticizes their child in athletics.
- The dry cleaner parent drives their child to practice (when they decide to go), leaves, and then picks the child up after practice. They never comment about the practice, or really engage with the coaches or other parents about the practice or game.
- The dry cleaner parent doesn’t get involved in the sports program. They don’t show up for fundraisers, award banquets, or stay for any of the games and practices.
- The dry cleaner parent doesn’t ask about their child’s progress, or get concerned when they don’t try hard or play up to their potential.
- The dry cleaner parent usually has a smile on their face, and when you ask them how things are going, everything is usually going OK – no matter what the situation.
The dry cleaner parent, even though their personality is usually very passive, they can be frustrating to work with. They are hard to pin down for anything, and they typically aren’t reliable. This is a hard one to combine with any other parent type, because the blasé parent usually clashes with most of the other types.
The Model Parent
This is more of an altruistic look at what qualities a good sports parent embraces. You may find that many of the parents of your athletes embody the model parent much more than they do some of the traits of the other 9 types of parents in this section.
This is a look at the model parent:
- The model parent supports their child in and out of the athletic arena. This involves encouragement, respect, and enthusiasm for the effort their child puts in.
- The model parent shows their son or daughter respect when they are playing the game, and whether they win or lose.
- The model parent has their children at all of the practices and games with their proper equipment, and all of this is done on time.
- The model parent helps other kids in need on the team – those who need rides to and from practice, those who can’t buy pizza after an away game, those who need the encouragement from someone on the sidelines because their parent isn’t there.
- The model parent is someone who is involved with the team, and does what they can to make a coaches’ life easier. They plan tournament accommodations, they arrange for transportation, they organize fundraisers, and they sit on baseball associations, hockey boards and basketball associations. They get involved.
- The model parent shows up at all (or as many as they can) games, and makes their child’s sporting endeavors a priority in their lives.
- The model parent is stands behind decisions the coach makes in regards to their players (as long as the decision is fair and just), if there is a disciplinary issue.
- The model parent does not try to ‘coach’ against what the real coach wants. They may not agree with the coaching philosophy, but they allow their child to learn and play within that system without interference.
You know these parents. They are probably the ones you talk to on a regular basis, the ones who are always offering to help, and the ones with the kids who are happy playing the sport you are coaching.
The model parent is an absolute dream. They make your job as a coach so much easier. Their kids are generally easier to coach, they support the entire team, and they have a genuine interest in seeing everyone on the team succeed.
Just like the other parent types, you will see most parents with some or many of these traits. It is just so much easier to have to deal with these qualities, than some of the others coming up.
The Competitive Parent
Some people are naturally competitive. It could have been bred from their own sports days, or they may have just developed a streak in them that gives them the desire to be better than others.
A competitive parent is not usually a problem – unless their competitive spirit boils over into boisterous or obnoxious presence. If their competitiveness is starting to have an effect on their child, other players, or other parents, then it is bordering on being a problem.
Here is what the competitive parent looks like:
- The competitive parent places winning above everything. It is a win-at-all-costs mentality.
- The competitive parent expects their child to compete at the highest level they can to succeed. They expect their child to hustle and do what it takes in the playing area to try and win the game.
- They can get upset if their child doesn’t display the same ‘will-to-win’ as they do when they compete. It becomes frustrating for them to watch a lack of effort.
- The competitive parent can’t always understand when someone doesn’t have the same drive as they do, to win.
- The competitive parent may talk to the coach about things he or she thinks should be done so the team can win. They want to see the team win, and they would like to offer their coaching ‘expertise’ to help them out.
- The competitive parent may make comments to their children about a lack of effort, when a parent thinks that more can be done during a game or practice.
The competitive parent in itself is typically harmless, unless the competitive spirit starts to hurt other people. What you have to watch out for is the competitive parent mixed with one of the other areas.
You will notice that each one of these parent types is relatively benign in nature – when they exhibit single traits. But, once they start to be three or four of the parent types, and to a greater degree, you quickly realize you are now fighting a multi-headed monster that can get out of control if you don’t take action.
The "Living Through Your Kids" Parent
Oh, how we have all seen these parents. In fact, to some degree, those of us who never reached as high as we should have in sports might exhibit some of these characteristics. Athletes are athletes, and when we see the athlete in our children, many parents want to see their children advance as far as they can.
Once again, if it gets carried away, it can become a problem. Parents can put too much pressure on their children because they know what they did to reach the level they achieved, so they push their children to get there as well.
You can tell this type of parent by these traits:
- They are always telling their children about, “when I played, I always used to do this.”
- They can get upset with their children if they don’t put in the same kind of effort they were expected to put in to achieve a high level of success.
- The ‘living through your kids’ parent tells their child “it’s not the way I used to do it.”
- This parent will push their kids to be the way they are, and to do things the way that they did when they were playing the sport.
- This parent can be even more aggressive if their child is in the same sport they used to compete in.
As coaches, we have all seen the parent who tries to live through their child. Many of them are trying to realize dreams that didn’t come true for themselves and their sporting career, and pushing their children because of the desire to see them succeed where the parent has failed.
The Outspoken Parent
This is one parent that can be especially dangerous to face, but if you can get them on your side, they can be equally powerful to your cause. They are the outspoken parents – the ones who are not afraid to say what is on their mind.
This parent may be difficult if they are combined with negativity or critical behavior, because if they decide to speak out in a negative or critical way, you are going to be dealing with the fall out afterwards.
Here are some things you might encounter with the outspoken parent:
- If they don’t like the way their son or daughter is performing on the court or the playing field, etc., they may have no problem embarrassing their child in front of other’s because of their outspoken nature.
- The outspoken parent may decide they don’t like the way you are coaching and they will tell you about it. Calling you in private is not their style, they would prefer to call you out in public – and that is what makes them a problem.
- This parent is not afraid to speak their mind – right, wrong, or otherwise. This can cause friction with other parents, other players, and even with their own children. As a coach, you may have to find a way to put a muzzle on the outspoken parent around others involved with the team.
- The outspoken parents will have no problem confronting other parents, other coaches, officials, and even other players in order to get what they want to say off their chest.
- The outspoken parent is usually a proud person who will defend their child no matter what the situation. They may tell you that you are wrong, despite the fact you are right, just to defend their children.
- The outspoken parent can work in your favor if you can get them to respect you and your way of doing things. If they are a positive parent who is outspoken, they can help you sway other parents, or create a positive influence among the entireorganization.
The outspoken parent is a wildcard. They can be good and bad, but they will always be predictable in their candidness with you and with others. If dealt with effectively, they can be an extremely valuable parent to have on your team.
The "Coach" Parent
Once again, we have a parent type that can help, or hurt your direction. If they subscribe to your way of doing things, then you have another coach that can facilitate the learning process for their child in the elements of your sport that you have taught.
They can also be destructive to different team members, because they may try to undermine what you are teaching. The "Coach" parent is especially dangerous if they have a high level of achievement in a sport – one that other players might respect more than yours.
In this parent, you may not see as much from the parent as you may see in the child. Most of the ‘coaching’ is done when the you (the real coach) aren’t around. Then, you end up seeing it on the practice field, or in a game situation.
Here are a few of the other traits you can expect from the "Coach" parent:
- If something goes wrong with the team, or with their child as a player, they will always resort to telling whoever will listen, what should have been done.
- This parent may tell their child how they think they should be playing, and what to do in certain situations. This may or may not be parallel to what you have been coaching. This is where you may run into difficulties.
- The athlete may come to a practice and after you have told them how to do something they say, “well, that’s not how my mom/dad told me to do it.”
- The "Coach" parent (especially if combined with the outspoken one) will take you aside and offer you "coaching" pointers. This might not be bad if the ideas are offered in a constructive way.
- The "Coach" parent may call you up and talk to you about some of the decisions you made during the game, or who you chose to play or not play during the game. They may also call you before a game and offer you different game plans or strategies for the next opponent.
- The "Coach" parent can be utilized in your favor by asking them to join you as a member of the staff. If they are in tune with the way you coach, then they might be a valuable addition to your coaching staff, and can offer something of value to the organization.
The "Coach" parent is another type, which if combined with another negative parent type can be a real problem. It can derail any progress that you wish to make with certain players, and also hamper the progress of the entire team.
If successfully integrated into your team, the coach parent has the potential to be a valuable asset. Some of the coaching strategies that we will discuss later are especially valuable for the ‘coach’ parent.
The Critical Parent
Alongside the negative parent type, this one can be one of the worst to deal with. They don’t like much, and if they do like something you can bet there is something about it they don’t like about it.
A good example of a critical parent would be one who enjoyed seeing their son or daughter’s team score a touchdown, but would complain about the play call – saying that they wouldn’t have called that play in that situation. Despite the positive outcome, the critical parent will find something wrong with it.
Here are a few of the other traits of the critical parent:
- The critical parent may be critical of other players, other parents, officials and coaches. This is never good and can cause tremendous friction between different areas of your team.
- The critical parents will be critical to their own child, and this can hamper then child’s performance. They feel a tremendous amount of pressure to live up to their parent’s expectations.
- The critical parent finds a way to criticize anything that is being done, even if there is a positive in it. This can be extremely detrimental to a team that needs to build on the positive strides it is making.
- The critical parent, combined with being outspoken can be a disaster to your team. Try putting a lid on a parent who wants to be very vocal about their criticism.
The critical parent is where we start to draw the danger line. Once you get into the area where the behavior itself is a destructive one it permeates the entire team and can be a cancer.
Controlling the critical parent may be a considerable challenge, and one that can’t be overlooked – simply because of what they can end up doing to the people around them.
The Negative Parent
You have probably met negative people in your life, and you can understand they are hard to deal with. Imagine them as parents of the children on your team. Nothing is done right – you can’t coach right, the other parents don’t know how to handle their children, the other children don’t play like your, etc.
The negative parent, if they are left to their own devices can run rampant on your team, and sour the athletic experience for their child and others.
Other traits of the negative parent:
- They will find the bad part of everything. No matter how good something is, they will find a way to turn it into something bad.
- Even if a child or parent does something good, they will find a way to bring it down. For example, if a parent does a good deed for the team the negative parent is sure to tell you something bad they have also done for the team.
- The negative parent chooses to put people down, find flaws in almost anything, and will argue just for the sake of arguing. They don’t like agreeing with anything someone says, and this can affect coaches, other parents and players.
- The negative parent will tell you all of the things that are wrong with your team and the players that are on it.
- The negative parent combined with the outspoken parent can be a lethal combination. They can sour others in an instant and can create a bad taste in the mouths of those associated with the team.
- The negative parent always makes things more difficult on themselves, just because it is more important to be negative about things than positive.
A negative parent in your organization needs to be dealt with immediately. The detriment to your team, along with the players and parents can be astounding. Later on in the book, I will show you how to deal with the negative parent before things get out of hand.
The Uncooperative Parent
The uncooperative parent just simply isn’t a team player. They don’t like doing anything for anyone but themselves. If you are asking someone to help with the team fundraiser, they will make an excuse why they aren’t able to offer their assistance.
The uncooperative parent is frustrating at best. Just when you think you are on track with something, they will plant a roadblock in your way. As a coach, this is an extraordinary challenge, especially if they are combined with one of the other parent types.
Here are a few of the traits of the uncooperative parent:
- The uncooperative parent will try to make things more difficult, when they can be easy.
- The uncooperative parent will take a seemingly insignificant problem and make it worse because of their unwillingness to cooperate withothers.
- The uncooperative parent can put a stop to plans or ideas for the team, because they find a way to not do their part.
- The uncooperative parent doesn’t work well with other people. They cannot be a part of associations, committees and other group activities related to the team because they can make them more difficult by being the roadblock in the way of progress.
You can work with the uncooperative parent, but it may be a chore to try and get them onside. Their uncooperative nature can affect their child because the child may not get the full athletic experience because the parent’s nature – and unwillingness to work with others.The uncooperative parent isn’t as difficult to work with as some of the other parent types. One of the easiest ways to deal with them is to not work with them at all.
Interestingly, once they realize their help isn’t required, they might just offer their services simply to be involved with things. Parental psychology 101…
My Child is a "Superstar" Parent
Watch out! This one can be a gem or a gigantic problem waiting to happen. The model parent who truly believes his child is a superstar can be one of the biggest boosters to your program. They will do whatever they can to make your team as good as possible, so their son or daughter can play on the best team.
If you get a parent who is one of the ugly parent types, combined with this one, you have a recipe for disaster.
The biggest problem with this parent is when the child is not any better (or worse) than any of the other kids on the team. The parent, as parents can do sometimes, believes that their child can do no wrong. This is when things can get out of hand.
Here are a few more traits you can expect from the parent who believes that their child is a superstar:
- They will press the coaching staff to make sure that their child is set ahead of everyone else on the team.
- They may bicker with other parents or the coaching staff about the playing time their child is getting.
- The ‘my child is a superstar’ parent might put down other kids or the coaches when they see that their child isn’t playing as much as the parent thinks they should.
- This parent may think they are also above doing some of the other volunteering with an organization, because their child is ‘better’ than the other kids.
- This parent may push their child extremely hard, sometimes to the detriment of the child, in order to get them to reach what the parent think is the child’s potential.
This parent can cause a lot of friction with other parents and other players and it can run rampant in an organization. This parent needs to be dealt with immediately before the situation gets out of hand.
Again, WHO ARE YOU?