Partnering with Parents

This article was provided by Coaches Network and offers an idea on getting parents involved with your program. 


Working with parents is a major part of any high school sport coach’s job, whether they like it or not. Often times the parents of student-athletes can become a source of stress and anxiety for coaches due to the pressures on performance and playing time. It can also be easy for coaches, especially if they are young or new to the job and lacking confidence, to avoid communicating directly with parents. All of this can become overwhelming for a coach when coupled with their other responsibilities, but there is a solution: embracing parents and using them as a positive resource.

Karin Keeney, Head Volleyball Coach at Hebron (Texas) High School, has learned how to productively work with parents throughout her 29 years of coaching. Instead of shying away, Keeney has partnered with parents and developed lasting relationships that have helped to strengthen the entire volleyball program. “What I’ve learned over the years is that parents are a huge hidden asset and a resource,” she says. “Sometimes their not so hidden but they are a huge resource.”

“For us here at Hebron High School, our parents are very invested in our program,” she continues. “They work everything at our matches, from the clock, to the book, to the gate, to the scorekeeping, and they volunteer their pay back into our booster club so it becomes a kind of fundraiser for us.”

When Keeney first started at Hebron it was extremely difficult for her to find parents that could commit to working the matches. Out of necessity she contacted all of the parents on the team and that’s when they offered to take over the responsibilities of organizing and running the matches. At first Keeney thought this was simply a way to get part of the workload off of her shoulders, but it soon transformed into something much greater.

“I didn’t realize at the time how invested parents were getting because they worked just as hard as the coaches and the kids in the program,” she says. “That’s been huge for us. I get more parents that come back 10 or 15 years later, their kids have already graduated and have kids of their own and they’re still coming to watch Hebron Volleyball because they are as invested as we are in the program.”

Before the start of each season, the parents have a training session with officials who teach them about proper scorekeeping and officiating. Once the season begins, the parents use their own sign-up system to schedule all of the people needed to work the matches for Hebron’s five different volleyball teams. Whenever a parent can’t make a match they are scheduled for, another parent on the sign-up sheet quickly takes their place.

By collaborating with parents, Keeney has not only been able to lessen her workload and focus on her primary coaching responsibilities, but she has also helped to strengthen the volleyball program as a whole. Having parents take an active role in their kid’s athletics has made them much more invested in and committed to Hebron High School volleyball. Keeney encourages other high school coaches to embrace the parents of their athletes and to use them as a positive resource instead of viewing them as a source of stress.

“When I tell parents, ‘congratulations your child has made the program,’ I’m really in essence saying they have to. And at first they giggle at me until they realize that they really have,” she says. “It’s really proven to be a very positive thing here at Hebron.”

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