Playing time and the player-coach relationship

Tara Seymour

About the Author

Tara Seymour

Tara Seymour lives in Hershey with her husband, Mark, and their three hockey-playing daughters, Emily, Shea and Darby. Tara coaches field hockey at Hershey Middle School.

Hockey has been a great experience for our girls and family, but it is not always easy.

As is the case with all team sports, there is a player-coach relationship that isn’t always easy to negotiate.

Maybe you have had this experience. Your child goes to a game and, for no apparent reason, plays very little or not at all. This might be exacerbated by other circumstances, such as attendance at the game being chosen over other important family functions, the game was at a far distance, the game required an overnight stay or significant outlay of funds to attend.

How we handled it

Now what does a parent do? How should a parent and a child handle the situation in a way that preserves the player-coach relationship?

When this has happened to us, we have considered these principles: support for our child in a difficult circumstance; teaching and demonstrating to our child a sound method of dealing with conflict; and respecting the individuals involved.

While I can say there is significant temptation to resort to anger, here is how we handled situations like the above:

  • We approached the coach (either with or without our child depending on the situation) and asked if the coach had discussed the lack of playing time with our daughter either before or after the game.
  • We pointed out that it was an expensive trip, but that we had made the choice to be there because we were committed to the team and our daughter’s development. 
  • We politely asked the coach to speak directly to our player about what had happened, and what the coach and player could do to make the situation better.

What are your thoughts?

I also will say that my husband and I have had coaches give us and our child a heads up before a game when for a certain reason there would be limited playing time. We appreciated the respect that the coach showed to us and our daughter. It allowed her to support the team without wondering why she was being slighted.

Paramount in my mind is that our daughter knew we were supporting her, and second, that her coach was treated with respect. As a coach myself, I want to treat others as I would want to be treated. This is not the only way to deal with these situations, just what we have done.

How do other parents handle these types of difficult situations? Feel free to share your thoughts.

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