The following is from Phil Gary, Head Boys Basketball Coach at Oak Park - River Forest High School:
In my nine years of coaching, I have found the following information beneficial to building mutually supportive parent/coach relationships.
Setting the standard for communication is a priority in building relationships. Having a parent meeting including the athletes as soon as tryouts ends, congratulating all who made the team, and welcoming new players and parents into the program is the first step in building team rapport. Having team expectations in a Parent Handbook format, including goals, expectations, coaching philosophy, and your team values, is a valuable way to answer player and parents questions about the team, most often regarding schedules, trips, and fees. Outline when the best time to have conversations between parent and coach regarding individual player concerns.
It is crucial for parents to understand that the coaches are committed to each player on and off the court! Often, this requires many hours of film, team building activities and academic work with individual athletes. Many coaches don’t get a chance to spend regular time with their families due to the long haul of the season and their substantial commitment to the academic and athletic growth of their players. This is why it is critical to outline how parents can make arrangements to meet with coaches to be respectful of the coach’s time on off days or free weekends. Parents and coaches should be a team committed to getting the best out of student-athletes in the classroom and on the court. The extremely impactful relationship between coaches and athletes is essential to encourage growth of athletes by being a great role model at home and also on the court.
Coaches have anywhere between 15-17 players on a roster, often many more between all team levels. Every player is different and coaches understand that. Coaches want every player and parent to be happy and have a great experience playing basketball. Win, lose or draw, we, as coaches, are committed to what is best for the team. Sometimes, an athlete may play a lot, a little bit, or, sometimes not at all. When everyone is committed, it should be understood that the team comes first and the individual comes second. While some parents may agree or disagree with game play decisions and the team’s philosophy, they should understand coaches are making the best decisions for the team first.
Phil Gary has been the Head Boys Basketball Coach at Oak Park - River Forest High School since 2020. He is also an OPRF graduate from the Class of 2007. Overall, Coach Gary has been on the sidelines for over nine years.
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