By Hoops 

In my last two writings we looked at two aspects of how parents affect their basketball playing children. Both were negative and, based on many of the comments received, we all hope this will improve. To end this trilogy, I thought I would discuss the fact that many parents, probably the vast majority, are great people and contribute a great deal to the experience kids have in sport. Unfortunately, as with many things, this is often overlooked and they are even taken for granted.

Hoops sees many games during the year and I see most adults, probably the parents of the kids playing, being great fans and assisting in any way possible. They drive players to and from the games, sit and watch the games cheering good plays and encouraging players from both teams. They thank the coaches for their time and realize officials are doing their best and do make mistakes. In general, they have fun watching their children and others having the opportunity to play a game which they know is a good thing for those individuals and society as a whole. Many of these adults played sport when they were young and know what a positive experience it can be and that the so-called "life-lessons" will make their children better citizens whether they win the championship or not.

This begs the question about how we can further foster this kind of attitude from all parents. We may not be able to control it, but it is my opinion that we can influence it. Like many things in life it appears to be based upon building relationships. Coaches need to get to know the parents of the kids they are coaching. Pre-season meetings are a good start. At these meetings, we can discuss our expectations of parents regarding acceptable and unacceptable behaviour during games and how to deal with any problems appropriately. Also, if coaches make it clear to all parents their philosophy on playing time at least the parents know what to expect right from the start of the season. I believe that some coaches make too many assumptions in this area. It may seem like common sense to us, but, as they often say, common sense isn't as common today as it used to be. If the role of parents is discussed in an open manner and in an open forum that will give coaches and other supportive parents a benchmark to refer to in the event of any problems. I truly believe that, much like the players we work with, the parents need to coached and all expectations need to be clearly laid out for them.

Recently, Hockey Winnipeg has announced that there will be on on-line course that all parents must take. I'm sure it can't hurt, but, it is my belief, that, if we want to facilitate real change, it will only come from personal face-to-face connections between those who have already built a relationship, and the best people to do this are coaches, not a computer.

I would be interested in your comments. See you next week.    

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