• BJ Mumford, B.S.S

How to "Parent-Proof" your season!

Updated: Nov 17



You know how every year you have parent complaints about how you are running your team?


Well, we help coaches "parent proof" their season by establishing a systematic, evidence-based framework for coaching decisions that you can point your parents to, while also providing actionable information that you can use on the court to improve practice priorities, select effective lineups, improve your team fg%, and ultimately win more games……


Which coincidentally also makes parents happier!



There are plenty of articles out there like this one: "7 things coaches want parents to stop doing right now"


But I like to look at things from a different perspective - often the opposite of the standard sport culture. In this case, I look at the player as the client coaches are serving...



So, what are the 7 things players want coaches to stop doing right now?


  1. Making arbitrary decisions, and giving contradictory instructions

  2. Punishing players for mistakes made in the attempt to follow instructions in #1

  3. Wasting practice time on monologues, anecdotes, and lengthy instructions

  4. Wasting players' time perfecting drills that don't apply to games

  5. Wasting resources by practicing using a single basket in a 6 hoop gym

  6. Practicing set pattern plays that rarely work in games, while crippling players from making decisions

  7. Changing offenses and defenses every week (or even every possession) to attempt to defeat a specific team

We are not going to address all of these here, but the #1 complaint we hear from players and parents is also the one thing that can make the most impact - that the coach makes arbitrary decisions that negatively affect the player, the team culture, and performance in games.



There are 3 main causes of this complaint from my perspective, based on working with hundreds of players and parents, and dozens of coaches over 15 years. My goal here is to demonstrate how you can hedge against all 3 and "Parent Proof" your season!

1. Pressure to produce results in the short term leads to many in-the-moment coaching decisions and band-aid fixes that are contradictory - red meat for those parents looking for fault - and confusing and debilitating for players.


2. Recency and negativity bias - Coaches immediately substituting players after an error, changing the starting lineup weekly based on recent performance, and overestimating the impact of player errors compared with their positive actions. 

3. Fear of sharing the coach's vision, values, strategies, criteria, and thinking processes with parents and players for fear of them finding fault - or finding out that the coach doesn’t have any!

Solutions to parent proof your season!

1. Create a long term vision, values, and system

  • Vision - the inspiring endpoint that everyone can see their part in, and the guiding star for every decision you make and action you take

  • Values - Your list of 5-10 words, and definitions of those words, that define what you personally value and what you want every member of the program to use to guide their behavior

  • System - Your overarching framework for offense, defense, personnel, equipment, strategy, practice priorities, and game-day logistics. Making sure that every piece of the program puzzle from each drill you run to every detail of game-day preparations fits together without conflict or contradiction

2. Commit to using an evidence-based approach to making decisions

  • Understand your players individual experience, preferred position/ role, and long term goals as a basketball player

  • Define player success based on objective, measurable data compared to their past self from last season/ month/ week/ game and let them set their own criteria for success

  • Translate film and stats into actionable information to guide what to prioritize in practice, and which players should be starting/ playing/ shooting more based on performance

3. Tell parents and players the consistent criteria that will be used for decisions

  • Relate every decision you make to the players own goals, success criteria, and evidence within the context of your program vision, values, and system

  • Tell them what those criteria are before the season, tell them weekly during the season, remind them when any changes are made based on those criteria, and relate your success at the end of the season to the same criteria

  • Honesty and transparency are powerful hedges against parent complaints:

  • You will break your own rules on occasion - own it without justification, players appreciate seeing adults make mistakes and admit it, and you instantly demonstrate a culture of honesty and integrity.

  • You will make changes to starting roles, playing time, and team strategy throughout the season - let everyone know that changes are coming in advance, why you decided to make that change, and the evidence you’re using to support the decision.

If you are like most coaches, you work a full-time job in addition to coaching, so you use the limited time you have to focus on the actual coaching - designing offense and defense strategies, planning practices, and helping your players grow and improve. 

We are here to help with all the other stuff - we specialize in simplifying and prioritizing practice based on stats and film analysis, saving you time and translating data into actionable information that you can use on the court.

Schedule a free consultation call to discuss your team’s situation, and let's talk through how to Parent Proof your season this year, and make sure you can keep your focus where it should be - on the court!


Listen to Coach Scott McClure on how we helped his travel team!


Want more ideas for parent proofing? Here's an article we like on changingthegameproject.com


Do you want more info on our coaching support services? Check out our blog on Coaching Memberships


- BJ Mumford, B.S.S



"We help kids bridge the gap between practice and games, giving them the confidence they need to compete at their next level.”

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