I was speaking with a parent of 2 softball players who have had numerous experiences with coaches who were parents of players on the team. I was annoyed but not surprised at how I was told the coaches of the team handled the playing time. All too often coaches who have players on the team tend to either favor their daughter or son or they are extra hard on them. It is not an easy task to treat all the same when you see your fielder on the way home and at dinner as well. This is also something that happens with coaches who have their spouse or friend on the team such as on an adult fastpitch, orthadox or slow pitch team.
How do the players who are on the team react to the optics of the environment. For adults many will simply say “well I guess that is to be expected”. Many minor athletes will not like it but you will find that the ones that will be most upset are the parents. The ones who bring their children to the field for practices and games every day the same as the coach does and who feel that their player is as important if no even more important than the coaches son or daughter. If you want to see division on the team and the beginning of trouble, having a coach who favors his/her child is the way to do it.
A coach who is harder on their athlete than the rest of the team will see players and parents almost shudder while watching him/her give directions. For this I recommend that as with a coach who favors their players, have another coach do the coaching of your athlete unless you are able to separate yourself emotionally on the field. It is not an easy task but it can be done with conscious effort. Allow your player to ask questions on the way home as any parent would but do not ever discuss other players or things you would not discuss with any other athlete. This is a good way to remain objective as a coach/parent.
It is a good idea for a coach who has a player on the team to have other coaches evaluate their player. Use a statistics system to gauge playing time to ensure that all players are being given equal opportunities to perform and to improve. Use season stats to set your line ups for the final tournaments that are important depending on the level of the team. If you are an elite team you need to put the team that will give the team the best results at the end of the day. If you are a recreational team you need to make sure everyone gets to play regardless of how YOU want to finish the season. Using statistics is the best way to ensure the team knows how you made your decisions.
You also want to make sure that each player feels that they had a part in the success of the team which is outlined at the beginning of the year. It from the beginning of the season where you are setting the tone of the team and the environment of positive and supportive players and parents. It is not easy but if it is a part of your season plan then it will actually be a part of your schedule of events etc. Most importantly you want to make sure every player feels like they are given every opportunity to improve through the season with extra practice time and game experience. This will only make your team stronger for the end of the year and for years to come. Trust me 🙂