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The Cooper City Optimist Soccer program encourage coaches to play all players at all age divisions. Yet, some parents still complain about playing time. 
 
Playing Time - How to Handle Upset Parents
 
Some of the most heated discussions between parents and coaches are over playing time in youth sports.  As a coach, it is difficult to have this conversation with a parent.  Especially when the parent is very worked up.  I have seen this happen countless times.  Right after a game, an upset parent approaches a coach and says,

"Why didn't my child play.  What do you have against my child. He is just as good as Johnny, and Johnny plays twice as much."
 
Here are some suggestions for coaches on how to handle a parent upset over playing time.

Initial Confrontation

When a parent approaches a coach in a somewhat hostile manner, the normal gut reaction is to go on the defensive.   To start to cut the parent off before they finish talking.  To become offended.  To miss what the parent is saying while formulating rebuttals.  The best thing you can do as a coach is let the parent get all of their feelings out and try to see it from their perspective.  

Things to Keep in Mind:  
1. Do not take any insults personally.  The parent wants what is best for their child and the things that they say are probably a bit irrational.
2. View it as a cry for help.  Remember that the parent is hurt, frustrated, or embarrassed. 
3. View it as an opportunity to grow as a coach.  This will not be the last difficult conversation you have and it is a perfect time to improve your communication skills.

Response

Show Empathy
Let the parent know that you understand how they feel, and that you would probably feel the same way. 

Use the Sandwich Technique
When giving the parent reasons for their child's lack of playing time, sandwich it between 2 compliments.  Compliment, Critique, Compliment.

Solution
Give the parent some steps that you both can take to help their child earn more playing time.