Should I give up coaching?

“The constant criticism from the parents of the players on my team is hitting my confidence and making me think I should give up coaching. Can you help?”

– Under 10s Boys Coach

Answer

I think all of us have a dark side that turns us into critics. Some people can be more critical than others, but if you’re on the receiving end you have to close your ears to the comments and just let the critics get on with it.

Working with grassroots teams I tend to hear criticism constantly and a lot of it comes from the parents at the side of the pitch. If their son or daughter has not played well, they think the coach hasn’t been doing his job properly. If their son or daughter is substituted, the coach hasn’t a clue what he’s doing. And on it goes.

Remember, criticism is easy to make but your achievements are not. And it’s easier to deal with criticism when you realise the reasons behind it. Criticism from parents is often a tool to defend their children and to defend themselves in the face of other parents with higher achieving kids – it’s not an attack on you as such but it can be hard to ignore.

You are doing a great job so don’t let them put you off. It is because you have given up your time and taken on the role of coach that you have been thrust into the limelight and unfortunately a lot of people will resent your position of importance.

When I first started coaching I remember that one of my teams went through a sticky patch in the middle of the season, having started out with four straight wins.

After one game a parent came up to me and told me that he had spoken to a few of the other dads and they had decided my tactics were wrong. I was taken aback and rushed home to go through my notes and think about what they had said. My tactics hadn’t changed but the players were on a steep learning curve and some aspects of their play were just beginning to come through. At that time I felt quite nervous about the score in games – not like now, when I look at how well the team played before I even think about the score. In attacking me the dads had come up with reasons why their kids hadn’t won the game, but it was their problem, not mine.

Now that I understand why people criticise, I no longer feel nervous about what parents think of me. Once you realise why people criticise you’ll deal with it much better too.