Dave Gosselin

Dave Gosselin, coach and author of “Focus on Them: Leading the Mindset Revolution for Coaches, Educators, and Business Leaders.”

During the 23 years that I have been coaching, I have been very fortunate to have parents who supported what I have been trying to do as a coach to develop their player.

Recently, a coaching colleague and friend had an experience that many coaches have with parents. That is, the parents, in this case two fathers, had a different set of goals for this team of young players. The goals of my coaching colleague are process oriented. He wants to help the players develop skills, develop as people and understand the game while attempting to merge a group of 11- and 12-year-old girls into some type of cohesive unit.

Unfortunately, the goal for these two fathers was very outcome oriented. This team of pre-teen girls needed to win more games. One father noted that the lack of winning games was creating stress for his daughter. At a team parent meeting, these two fathers were quite vocal about their goals, and a rather tense environment developed. Interestingly, the other 20 parents in the room, who generally support the coach, stayed quiet.

After this incident, my friend was ready to quit coaching. This would have been a loss for all concerned, especially the players. When he shared his story with me, I suggested a strategy that I have used in various forms over the years. The strategy includes asking the parents to address the following items:

1. At the end of the season, I will consider it a success:

• For my daughter if …

• For the team if …

2. I expect the following of the coaching staff …

3. To make this a successful season, I will help with …

Once these data are gathered, they can be placed in a format whereby individuals cannot be identified, and the result is shared with the entire group without commentary. The process is transparent, and all involved can see what each other are thinking.

Players should be asked similar questions. The parental and player information, along with a copy of the coach’s philosophy, which should include their goals, can then be used to develop a common vision for the team. Comparing the parent and player responses can provide a framework for conversation between the parent and player that may provide some enlightening information for the parents.

Using this approach has several positive outcomes – the coach, parents and players can get on the same page. The coach will realize that he actually has more support than he/she realizes. Parents can learn from their children why they want to play the game.

Try it – you will be surprised at what you will learn by sharing your goals.


L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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