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Parents can have the ability to break a coach nowadays like never before. One reason some parents decide to make life difficult for a coach is because they simply do not trust them.
Gone are the days that past success dictates future relationships. Great, you won a state championship, but that was a decade ago. Parents simply don't care about past success if they think their son isn't being treated fairly. And nine out of 10 times when there are issues regarding playing time, the parent/coach relationship becomes troubled due to a lack of trust in the head coach or assistants.
Here are three ways to build trust from parents. 1. Be authentic
In the words of our kids these days: Do you. Don't do Nick Saban; don't do Urban Meyer. Be yourself. Parents want authenticity, so be who you are. Trying to be someone you are not, or trying to incorporate a philosophy that is not really yours, is one of the fastest ways to break the trust in the parent/coach relationship. Parents see through that stuff.
Authenticity creates trust in parents because they have a certain expectation of who you are. When you act outside of who you really are, you lose that trust. Parents need to know that coach Smith is coach Smith no matter what happens on the field, win or lose. No matter what happens with the major fundraiser or the discontent from administration, is coach Smith going to be coach Smith?
"Real recognizes real," as they say. If you're not authentic with parents in every single aspect of your program, you will lose trust from the parents.2. Be approachable
Coaches who are not approachable will not be trusted by the parents in their community. Something happened to me when I became a varsity head football coach for the first time. I was young, and I know that had something to do with it. At 27 years old, I didn't want some of the people in our community to find out I really had no business being a head football coach. So, I wasn't approachable. I built up a sort of fence with our parents.
Parents want to have a head coach who they can speak with, who they can email. They want someone personable leading and mentoring their sons. We all know how much time we spend with these kids.
There is an expectation from parents that we are leading and developing these young men together. Coach and parent, each doing their job to develop a young man.
You need to maintain a clear set of communication. Many parents are going to want to discuss playing time. But that is something you should not discuss with them, in my opinion, without a set and clear set of expectations.
Parents also want to talk with coaches about what is happening in their sons' lives. Parents need to be able to approach the head coach about their son. If you want to be trusted by parents, be approachable
3. Get results
Gone are the days when a head football coach or even his trusted assistants were trusted because of their position. "He is the head coach, trust him, he must be right," is not the usual response any longer. These days, you'd better get results. You will not be trusted for very long if you are not getting results.
Results come in many shapes and sizes. Some of you will be judged by winning a league championship, or maybe a state championship. Others of you need to simply go .500, and that result will be the best that the school has seen in 10 years. No matter the case, you need to get results. Chris Fore is a veteran Head Football Coach and Athletic Director from Southern California. He consults coaches and programs nationwide through his business Eight Laces Consulting.