The Parent-Coach Relationship


The importance of the parent-coach relationship cannot be understated when it comes to both athlete performance and wellbeing. Importantly, any respected coach of school-age athletes will fully understand the true value of parental communication and that parents are an integral part of ‘the team’.

Parent-To-Coach Communication

As a parent, you know your child better than anyone. You also know the things that are going on in their life away from the training ground that could impact their sport.

Let’s take an obvious but often overlooked scenario showcasing the benefits of good parent-coach communication:

The coach has decided on a session plan, but he/she has no knowledge of how your athlete is feeling, whether they’ve had a tough week at school, are going down with a cold, or have other underlying factors that might impact focus and/or performance.

Teenagers, in particular, tend to be reluctant to share personal information, especially if it involves emotions. They may choose to endure their difficulties silently rather than engage in a potentially uncomfortable conversation. As a result, athletes and coaches may encounter frustrating situations, with the athlete struggling to perform and the coach uncertain about the cause.

A quick word from the parent to the coach at the start of a session would have allowed changes to be made that took into consideration any possible limitations, providing a far more beneficial session for all concerned. 

As a parent, you may think that a poor training session is not a big deal, but you cannot underestimate its impact on the athlete. It can result in a silent and gloomy car journey home, mood swings, and a crisis of confidence. Repeated demoralising sessions caused by an ongoing unexplained external issue can ultimately lead to far more serious struggles.

Putting the coach in the picture will always be beneficial, but consider doing this discreetly, especially if the issue is sensitive. In these situations, an email to the coach that also requests confidentiality might be the best approach, as teenagers will invariably prefer parents not to make a big deal out of any problems.

Ash on bike

Coach Ashley Bryant and his athlete


Coach-To-Parent Communication

Conversations in the other direction, i.e. coach to parent, are equally important. Coaches often pick up on factors that might not be obvious to a parent, e.g. confidence issues, lack of energy, etc. Conveying observations to parents enables early identification of the cause and swift action to remedy the issue before it becomes problematic.

These chats can also become the source of valuable information regarding topics where parents can make a difference regarding their athlete's performance and wellbeing, especially if coaches are well-versed in areas such as nutrition, mindset, and the importance of sleep, for example.

Gaining Event Insights

Of course, conversations with the coach can also provide greater insight into your athlete’s event, which, in turn, allows a more informed interest that can generate meaningful parent-athlete conversations. Being seen to be making an effort to understand their event demonstrates that you care and are there for them, and is often rewarded with an improved athlete-parent bond. There is (apparently) nothing more frustrating to an athlete than a parent who pretends to understand their event and what it involves! 

The vast majority of young athletes genuinely love it when their parents get on well with the coach. They see a united team effort… all working together to help them achieve their goals. It provides a confidence boost and a feeling that others care whilst also showcasing the benefits of collaboration to them.


Joe and his performance coach, David Hull

Our Own Experience

From our own experience, the move from being a mum sitting in the club cafe to an engaged track-side observer during training sessions was game-changing. In my defence, I was initially lured to the club cafe by other mums who didn’t share my genuine interest in sports and our children's progress. Thankfully, I soon realised what I was missing and rebelled from the twice-weekly ‘Mumsnet’ chats to become a hands-on athlete mum instead. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Watching Joe’s progress during the early years meant a lot to him, as did my brief chats with the coach at the end of each session. My interest in his sport was clear to see. The eventual move to a high-performance group within the club saw my coach chats become more informative… I soon became relatively knowledgeable in the art and technicalities of the 400m hurdles… allowing Joe to communicate with me on a more meaningful level. I certainly didn’t profess to be an expert, but I understood enough for him to be able to talk things through, which he admits now was a great help to him. 

As time went on, my chats with the coach became increasingly technical as I learnt about stride patterns, hip mobility, and other hurdling intricacies. Increasing my knowledge in tandem with Joe’s performance progression was an important move that benefited us both. 

Importantly, general conversations also made it clear to the coach that my contributions outside the training environment, such as good nutrition and other beneficial lifestyle factors, were reinforcing his efforts. Knowing that everyone was pulling in the same direction created an effective, unified team effort, the benefits of which showed in Joe’s ever-improving results.

 Of course, another huge benefit of our good parent-coach relationships across the years and performance levels was that I felt involved and valued. When you're committed to your athlete's sporting journey, this matters a lot.


If you want to go the extra mile to help your child achieve their sporting dreams, The Athlete Parent Place has created something just for you. 

We've teamed up with experts, professional athletes, and parents who have already 'been there' to create The Ultimate Guide To Athlete Parenting, where you can access guidance on nutrition, sleep, psychology, and much more. Why not take a look?





There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!