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Friendly rivalries in youth sports can be a positive force that motivate children to try their best and improve, but rivalries or tensions between parents and coaches are not as beneficial. Of course, even though they both may have the best intentions at heart, it’s not uncommon for parents and coaches to find themselves in arguments or disputes that can disrupt everyone’s youth sports experience. It doesn’t have to be this way, however, so take a look at what you can do to build a positive parent-coach relationship.

Make Contact Early

One of the best strategies is to reach out to your child’s coach as early as possible to introduce yourself, as well as your son or daughter, and to explain any concerns or preferences that you may have about the upcoming season. Early meetings like these initiate your relationship with the coach on a positive note, which will help as the season unfolds and you need to work with him or her to address issues. At the same time, presenting your concerns early will enable you to develop proactive solutions instead of waiting until something goes wrong during the course of the program.

Communicate Calmly

Tempers can flare up if the coach does something that upsets you, but it’s not a good idea to let your frustration take control of the situation. After all, marching right up to the coach when you’re angry could lead to a hostile situation where he or she responds angrily and will be less likely to listen to your concerns, and it may make the kids on the team uncomfortable.

Instead, give yourself a cooling off period so that you can calm down, collect your thoughts, and then engage the coach by communicating clearly and rationally. You’ll have an easier time expressing your views, and the coach will be more open to hearing what you have to say when it’s presented in the form of a conversation rather than a shouting match. Also, communicating calmly and clearly will signal to the kids that adults resolve conflict through discussion and not through anger.

Empower Your Child to Speak Up

Youth sports is a powerful developmental experience for the children who participate, and in that spirit, you can encourage your child to address their coach for themselves. There are a number of advantages to this approach. For example, coaches may be more receptive to suggestions from their players instead of their parents, so having your son or daughter talk through issues directly with their coach can avoid an awkward, potentially tense situation between two adults and may actually have a higher likelihood of succeeding. Plus, when your child needs to solve issues on their own—even in a controlled setting—they learn confidence and communication skills that will serve them for their entire lives.