Trouble with the Coach

Archived Q&A and Reviews

17-year-old having disagreements with the coach

March 2001

I'm not experienced in raising a son. What is a Mother's role here: My 17 year old does not agree with the way his coach is running/managing the team and has no hesitation in telling her so. She suspended him for a few days for his attitude. She doesn't want to hear his opinions. He says now that he's ready to quit in spite of loving the sport because he says he can't play his best if she doesn't make his team mates play their best.

Shall I let him quit? See if we can get a discussion going (although he doesn't seem ready to compromise)? Order him to apologize and do what he's told? Other? Thanks for your advice.

I had a similar situation with my son and a teacher. I went to the teacher and laid everything out for her with an attitude of maybe you and my son are not a good match, how can we make this work for the rest of the term? It did not fix everyting but it did help. She eased off a little and he made more effort, and there was less conflict. Maybe this will work? Elaine

Regarding the 17 year old who has a conflict with his coach: Whew! Your son does have a BIG attitude problem if he thinks that as a 17-year old he knows best how coach the team. Obviously, there are many other factors possibly operating here. Is your son getting tired of this sport and looking for an excuse to quit? Is he performing less well than he expects and is thus trying to blame it on others? Is he so self-centered that he only cares what's best for himself and doesn't care about the others on the team? Does he merely have a personality conflict with the coach? Whatever it is, he is not seeming to understand the reality of the situation--the coach makes the coaching decisions and the player has to accept the authority of the coach.

If it were me, also the single mother of a son who's played on lots of sports teams, I would try to get a discussion going around what the role of the coach is and how the coach has to make decisions that benefit the team as a whole. I'd try to get him to realize that things aren't always going to go his own way and this is a perfect example of a situation where he may have to put up with things he's not that happy with. I'd ask him if he is looking for an excuse to quit the sport. I'd ask him to think of strategies for getting along with someone who you don't like very much. In other words, I'd try to dialogue with him about it and get him to think beyond his own self-focused interests. In the end, I'd suggest that he'd learn a lot from putting up with a situation that is not ideal for his purposes but which would allow him to play the sport. If he's not willing to accept that without complaining, then I'd let him quit. That would help to teach the hard lesson that things can't always go your way, but you still have choices for either accepting the situation or leaving it. Good luck!