Let’s face it

The climate of coaching at the college and HS level has changed. The advent of the anonymous forums and the rise of the helicopter parent has caused not so subtle quakes in the landscape of coaching. In his final years of coaching basketball, Purdue coach Gene Keaty had to institute a parent’s pre-season meeting to address issues of parental involvement and behavior at games. One prominent lacrosse college coach informed me that his wife would no longer attend the post-game tailgates because she was verbally challenged by parents as to coaching decisions. The long-term prognostication is not favorable. It will not get better anytime in the future.

Since 90% of current lacrosse parents did not play the sport but have definitive opinions about it, it may be necessary for the coaching staff to use the summer to address these issues in written form through the development of a lacrosse parent handbook.

The handbook should contain:

·         The Coach’s Athletic Philosophy including the process for selecting captains, the earning of playing time and the handling of player disenchantment.

·         Team rules and core values and the school’s policy

·         Practice expectations 

·         Travel Expectations

·         Specific terminology used by the coach(es) {many times, newbie parents misunderstand generally understood lacrosse terms for criticism, when in fact it is specific instruction}

Three additional tips:

1.    Be sure the athletic department is supportive of the elements and philosophy of the handbook- and perhaps get it in writing. This will hold them accountable when parental distractions emerge.

2.    Include a list of ways in which you would like their involvement to be expressed – give them something positive to do that is in-line with the program’s needs and your philosophy.

3.    Identify key the traditions and the history – let the parents know that they are only a small part of a long tradition of the game and program.

A little effort this summer to formulate a 6-7 page document may save you from a confrontation later. Seems like a solid trade-off.