7 steps for Rowing Coaches dealing with pushy parents


There are many conversations across the web about how coaches deal with pushy sports parents doting over their children. Some parents even stop their children from competing for fear of injury or loss of study time. Mac from Basketball For Coaches recommends these 7 steps:

Coaches and Parents behaviour:

  1. never talk to someone that is yelling at you
  2. discuss their problems at a later date (not in front of a crowd)
  3. get someone else to sit in on the meeting
  4. hear parents out
  5. control your body language
  6. keep your composure
  7. respond positively: acknowledge their points and where they’re coming from

We identified and explored the two big points that Mac’s article helped show: informing parents and formal steps for dealing with parents.

Coaches should Keep parents informed

Many problems with pushy parents arise from misunderstanding and misinformation. Some parents just don’t know enough about the sport, the athletic levels of their children, or even the goals for their training. To put an end to all this we suggest including them in the program as much as possible.  Here are some suggestions

Coaches and parents: Make a starting pamphlet or email for new athlete’s parents

Stop the misunderstandings right from the start. Produce a document or email template to send to parents when their children join your team. Explain the sport and the subtle complexities which wouldn’t be known to non-participants. Then explain how and why your coaching works for their child.  Reminding parents that you may not be coaching the team to win all the time – there are valuable life lessons to be learned from losing or coming a close second.  This frees up your time as parents are left with less trivial questions and hopefully, less worry.

Write a coaching blog which parents can follow

Having a blog gives you the power to connect with more than just parents, however, it gives you a platform to share the progression of your coaching so they can feel assured in your abilities. Beware of getting too personal as that could be viewed as unprofessional.

Send out a monthly newsletter on coaching activities

Make a summary of what you and their children have achieved every month. You could even assign fun awards monthly like Most Improved Player to boost parent’s confidence in their children’s learning gains.

Athlete profiles

Create a document, share it with each parent involved with that child, and update it regularly on how they are progressing. Google docs are especially good for this. Parents can make notes and communicate back to you through the document.

Make a record using photos

Sometimes the visual proof is best than anything else. Show parents the enjoyment their child gets from their chosen sport and how much it means to them.

A procedure for dealing with complaints

As Mac explains, it helps if your club or school has an official set of steps to follow when these situations arise. This gives the coach the tools to solve an issue, and prevents a situation from getting out of hand.

Here’s a suggested set of steps to follow:

  1. Complaint arises.
  2. Prepare informal meetings between the coach, another coach or staff member (to mediate), and the parents.
  3. listen in full to the complaint.
  4. offer a set of solutions.
  5. immediately resolve the issue (e.g. put their child on for more game time)
  6. work towards resolving the issue (e.g. train their child for more hours)
  7. change your coaching to resolve the issue (e.g. alter your regime or change exercises used)
  8. bring the discussion to a higher level (next step)
  9. If unresolved, prepare a formal meeting between parents and the head of the sports department, school principal or the club captain.

Add detail to these steps as you follow them. As issues arise, you could include a list of them and how they were resolved so colleagues can learn how coaches should deal with pushy parents from past solutions. Recording steps is effective for resolving issues faster and keeping everyone happy.

Related products:

A Parents' Guide to Rowing book A Parents’ Guide to Rowing book by Hillary Lloyd


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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Beth Gillette

    Wow, I have to share this one. I know some coaches who have to deal with this. Thanks Rowperfect

    1. Rowperfect

      Beth. Thanks for your comment. It’s never an easy situation. You might also like to read John Parker’s ebooks on Sporting Parent Communications.

      He has wise words. They are in shop under ebooks.

  2. Katherine Phillips

    Hi Jonathan,

    The article is a good read, thank you. It really reiterates what we should be doing in our everyday lives. The first seven points are exactly how I deal with my staff let alone rowing parents. I mostly coach masters and we use the same protocols in dealing with the rowers themselves.

    Kind regards,


  3. Tim Braun

    Thanks, great article. Have similar issues with pushy parents. I got the matter under control after setting up a Telegram group to keep in touch and have a 24h communication chanel.

  4. Christiane Mehl

    Thank you, that’s an excellent idea, suited to today’s times.

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