Coach’s Code of Conduct

As a coach, I will conduct myself at all times in a way that demonstrates my commitment to the following:

  1. Coaches must create a positive and fun environment for their players.
  2. Coaches must provide open communication with parents and enlist their help and support with the team.
  3. Coaches must be educators, placing the development of player skills and knowledge ahead of winning games. They must encourage team play over individual efforts.
  4. Coaches must set goals and objectives for their team that foster mastery in their players.
  5. Coaches must help players develop their own internal motivation and critical self-observation skills.
  6. Coaches must be positive role models for players. They must show emotional maturity by controlling their anger and never using obscene language or gestures.
  7. Coaches must treat everyone fairly and with respect. They should set the highest standard for others to follow.
  8. Coaches must be organized and prepared so that limited practice time and game time are put to best use.
  9. Coaches must always put player safety and health first by dealing aggressively with unsafe situations or player conduct. They should encourage their players with appropriate safety and health leadership in all areas of their lives.
  10. Coaches must continue to work to develop their skills as a coach.
  11. Coaches must honor the game and help players and parents to appreciate the sport and the life lessons that can be gained from the sport.

I have read and understand the above Code of Conduct and agree to follow its guidelines at all league activities. I understand that if I do not follow this Code of Conduct, I may be asked to leave the league activity (such as a game or practice) or give up my coaching position.

Coach Signature
Coach Name (Printed)


Team Ice Breakers

Icebreaker #1 – Player Interviews

Separate players into groups of two or three. Try to match players with others they do not know. Each person in the group should interview one of the other group members and ask them the interview questions. After all interviews have taken place, the answers should be presented to the group by the interviewer. Groups of three are preferable for older players since they must work together to determine who interviews whom.

Sample Interview Questions
Change the interview questions to make them more relevant for age group and sport. Try to choose questions that might help players identify with other members of the team.


Age & Grade?


Favorite sports hero?

Favorite sport (other than the one now playing)?

Favorite television show?

Favorite musician/band?

Icebreaker #2 – Player Trivia Challenge

Separate players into groups of three or four and let each group work together to answer the following questions. Each group writes its answers on a piece of paper. After all questions are asked, answers are given and each group gets one point for a correct answer.

Sample Trivia Questions

Feel free to change the trivia questions as desired to make them more relevant for age group and sport. Try to choose questions that might have a couple of different answers to get kids more active in discussion.

1. Who is the all-time NBA total points leader?

A. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
B. Karl Malone
C. Michael Jordan

2. Who is the all-time NBA leader in points per game?

A. Wilt Chamberlain
B. Michael Jordan
C. Shaquille O’Neal

3. Who led the NFL in passing touchdowns for three consecutive years starting in 1995?

A. Kurt Warner
B. Steve Young
C. Brett Favre

4. Whose record did Emmitt Smith break to become the all time leading rusher in the NFL?

A. Barry Sanders
B. Walter Payton
C. Jim Brown

5. Who is the all-time MLB leader in home runs?

A. Barry Bonds
B. Hank Aaron
C. Babe Ruth

6. Who holds the record for pitching the most innings in MLB?

A. Nolan Ryan
B. Jim Galvin
C. Cy Young

7. After Wayne Gretzky, who holds the record for the most points in the NHL?

A. Mark Messier
B. Gordie Howe
C. Brett Hull

8. Who holds the record for the most games played in the NHL?

A. Wayne Gretzky
B. Gordie Howe
C. Ray Bourque


  1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 38,387.  The leader order is the same as the answers.
  2. Michael Jordan with an average of 30.1.
  3. Brett Favre with 38, 39 and 35 respectively.
  4. Walter Payton
  5. Hank Aaron with 755 from 1954-1976.
  6. Cy Young with 7,356.
  7. Gordie Howe with 1,850.
  8. Gordie Howe with 1,767. Gretzy is #11 on the list with 1,487.

Do I Actually Have to Talk to the Parents?

Youth coaches sometimes joke that the ideal youth team is a team of orphans. Though this approach is one solution to problem parents, there are other more practical solutions. One of the best is regular communication with parents.

Everything a coach does with the team is in parental view. In the absence of coaching guidance, parents form and communicate their own opinions of the status of the team and the steps necessary for improvement. Some parents may be objective and knowledgeable about the sport, but if they don’t speak up, then the overall team opinion may be shaped by others. For coaches, these parent-to-parent and parent-to-player communications can become distracting to their efforts to make team improvements.

Coaches should consider short and regular meetings with all parents to help shape these opinions and give parents better insight into what to watch for in games and practices. In a recent Sports Esteem survey of coaches and parents, over 60% thought that coaches should at least meet occasionally with parents after a game. In these meetings, coaches might cover:

  • Recent team performance giving parents insight into the progress the team is or is not making in various areas.
  • Approaches taken in practices that are attempting to shape game performance.
  • Reemphasis of team goals and objectives.
  • Realistic guidance concerning upcoming game and practice performance.
  • Positive comments concerning every player. Mentioning only a few players may raise more parent concerns.
  • Reminding parents to praise their children’s efforts and encourage their kids to have fun and develop a love for the game.

The overall test of a youth coach is whether his players have fun, learn new skills and want to play again next season. Yet, in the emotions of a game or issue, these goals can get lost or seem secondary. Coaches need to have the courage and conviction to keep their parents working toward these goals and this requires regular and consistent communication. The temptation to avoid parental contact only amplifies problems over time and lets small problems become large problems later in the season.

Parents help judge the success of coaches, teams and seasons. In the absence of information, their judgments will vary greatly based on their own experiences and knowledge. With information, parents gain better appreciation for the challenges coaches face and continue to learn how they can best support their child’s efforts.

Five Easy Ways to Feed the Fear of Your Players

Coaches can have a big impact on the way players deal with the fears that can arise from sporting competitions. Every competition has an outcome. But, focusing on an outcome before the competition is over means that players are not focused on the immediate challenges of game play. Coaches can improve team performance and increase the chances of a win by keeping their players focused. However, there are five easy ways to help players lose this focus and start focusing on the fear of failure. These include:

  • Make a Game’s Outcome Do or Die – Every game is going to have a winner and a loser. If players are thinking about the end of the game, they are not thinking about playing the game.
  • Sharply Punish Failures – When players know that their mistakes will bring about a harsh penalty, their performances will often be motivated by images of failure rather than by images of success. Unfortunately, outcomes often follow these images.
  • Don’t Acknowledge Player Concerns – Players know when they are playing in a big game. If coaches don’t help shape the way that players think about these games, then players will shape their own thoughts and often with an excessive fear of failure.
  • Overemphasize Opponents – All teams are capable of being beaten. But, some are much more difficult than others. Elevating the stature of opponents can give players additional fears of embarrassment and humiliation beyond the normal fear of defeat.
  • Give Players a Larger Purpose – When audiences for games include more than just family members, it is easy to remind players that they are playing for their school, their organization or for some more significant purpose than the game itself. This takes a player’s attention outside the boundaries of the game and into the stands.

Though most coaches have often played in big games, it is easy to forget that most youth players have not. When coaches help keep players focused on the game, they are giving them the best chances of success and the best tools for minimizing fear.

Criticize the Performance Not the Player

Coaches are an important influence in a kid’s life. Their words always carry more significance to the child hearing them than the to the coach who is saying them. As such, it is easy for coaches to phrase things in ways that are heard as much harsher than was intended. When helping kids develop new skills or when dealing with team selections, coaches should be careful to focus player discussions on tangible behaviors and away from things that have broader personal or family meaning. For example:

Personally Focused and Confusing

  • What’s wrong with you today?
  • We don’t want you on our team.
  • Why can’t you play as well as Tommy?
  • How long have you been playing this sport?
  • We are looking for better kids.
  • Why can’t you play more like your brother?
  • Did your dad teach you that?
  • Are you this way in school too?
  • Would your mom be proud of this behavior?
  • Don’t let this team down.
  • Why can’t you be better?

Performance Focused and Better

  • Your effort is not up to your usual level.
  • There were other players who in our judgment made better effort.
  • You will need to move more quickly if you are to have an impact during the play.
  • Let me show you where you need to be when these events happen.
  • We need players with more advanced skills.
  • If you are not feeling well, take a break and try again in a few minutes.
  • We are counting on a good performance from you today.

When coaches are careful to keep discussions focused on behaviors, they are also keeping their players focused on things they can change. When conversations become more personal, it makes it harder for players to equate a simple change of behavior with improved performance. Giving players a clear set of expectations and measurements is the easiest way to get the most from a team.

Trying Out for a Select Team – The Parent Quiz

If Your Kid Can Make the Team, Can You?

Given the importance of team chemistry, many select and travel teams are starting to evaluate parents as well as the players when making their decisions for limited team spots. Parents who have demonstrated inappropriate behavior or who have caused problems for coaches or staff often put their kids at a disadvantage. Parents who don’t have the right perceptions of select sports can also cause problems for teams. Here is a quick questionnaire that teams can use to evaluate the parents of select or travel players.

Instructions: Choose the BEST answer from the list provided. The word “select” can also mean “travel”. A hint is provided at the end of the question.

1. What is the proper role of parents on a select team?

  • Help the coach spot flaws in the team.
  • Help the coach track playing time.
  • Help bring the coach’s attention to bad officiating.
  • Provide support and encouragement for their child and team.

If parents provide a supportive and nurturing environment for their kids, coaches will have an easier time focusing on player and team skills.

Read more of this post

Turning Around a Problem Parent

Last week’s post covered the 10 commitments that coaches should expect from parents. When these commitments are missing, coaches may find the team or a player suffering as a result. Here are some ideas for working through this problem.

  1. Assume parents are trying to help. In spite of what parents may be doing, most are behaving as they are because they believe their actions will benefit their child. Many times parents may be repeating inappropriate behaviors that were used with them when they played sports.
  2. Educate parents about best practices. If parents are working in their child’s best interests but are going about it wrong, then coaches can give parents alternative behaviors that will accomplish the desired results.
  3. Communicate frequently with parents as individuals and as a group. The more parents and coaches are at ease talking with each other about small issues, the more parents and coaches will be comfortable talking about more difficult issues.
  4. Rely on beginning of season communications. If the coach has held a meeting early in the season and given parents a clear set of goals and playing philosophies, coaches can go back to those to statements to restart the relationship.
  5. Seek help from league officials. Don’t hesitate to discuss a problem parent with the supervising league official. This provides an opportunity to gain insight into the parent or the problem as well as alerting others to a difficult situation.
  6. Seek advice from other coaches. With coach turnover, coaches are seeing problems with parents and parent issues that have been resolved many times by other coaches before them.
  7. Use parent meetings to form consensus and invoke peer pressure. Parent meetings are good times to set expectations for team parent behavior and discuss them. Parents are more likely to act in ways that they believe are supported by other parents.
  8. Rely on printed league statements and codes of conduct. In extreme situations, coaches may need to reference the league’s Code of Conduct to warn that current behavior may risk league actions. Coaches should use the league as the enforcer of these policies.

There is no standard approach to parent problems. A strategy focusing on communication, education and enforcement gives coaches the best chances of resolving parent issues.

Should Parents Be Committed?

Parents are an integral part of any youth team. Not only do they provide equipment, transportation and funding for the team, parents also spend much more time with the players than the coaches do. For teams to work well, there are 10 commitments that coaches should expect out of parents. Parents should be committed to:

  1. Patience – Giving kids the time and space to develop the necessary skills and passion for the game. Too much pressure to succeed immediately only makes it harder for coaches to teach fundamentals.
  2. Fun – Working to create a season of great memories for the future.
  3. Maturity – Helping kids handle the emotions of competitive play.
  4. Support – Working with the coach to help kids acquire the physical development skills necessary.
  5. Communication – Letting the coach know about any family or life issues affecting the players.
  6. Praise – Providing the positive motivation that players need to continue working hard.
  7. Preparation – Getting their kids ready for games and practices with the right equipment, rest and nutrition.
  8. Punctuality – Showing up on time for practices and games.
  9. Sportsmanship – Being positive role models for handling losses and wins.
  10. Team – Demonstrating concern for the needs of the team as well as for the needs of their own child.

Most coaches can run their season without having to confront a lack of parental commitment. When this does become a problem, coaches may occasionally be forced to resolve the situation for the benefit of a player or the team. Next week’s newsletter will provide some thoughts on how to deal with this issue.

To Be or Not to Be

The intensity and emotion of a close competition can easily carry over into post-game discussions. It is often difficult for coaches to stop trying to manage the game after it is over. However, post-game conversations are not a part of the game. After all, nothing that is said after a game can affect its outcome. Conversations after a game have much more impact on the next practice or the next game. With that in mind, here are five suggestions for coaches for post-game conversations with players and parents:

  1. Be patient. There will be plenty of time to address mistakes. Make a list of mistakes made during the game and then set it aside for review before planning the next practice or game.
  2. Be positive. Allow the players to celebrate their good plays so that they continue to build their inner desire to improve.
  3. Be communicative. Don’t shy away from players or parents after a loss any more than after a win. Changing parental interactions based on the outcome will leave parents assuming the worst about their child or the team.
  4. Be objective. Before looking to player mistakes, first look to see if there were other things that could have been done better in preparation or motivation.
  5. Be candid. If you made a mistake during the game, don’t be afraid to admit it. If coaches are honest about their mistakes, players are more likely to be honest about theirs.

Parents and players take their cues from the coach. A compliment helps reassure parents of their child’s potential and keeps them from focusing too much on their own judgments. It can even help shape parental conversations in the car on the way home. Good post-game conversations can do more to bring a team together than any conversation before a game.

Ancient Chinese Advice for Coaches

“To know your enemy, you must become your enemy… Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
Sun Tzu

Unfortunately for some youth coaches, this saying might have more application to team parents than to the weekend’s opponent. However, if parents are becoming a problem, this ancient Chinese battle strategy does provide solid advice for coaches seeking a remedy.

Coaches and parents do not have the same goals. Where parents focus on one child, coaches focus on the entire team. Most times, these differing viewpoints yield the same result and parents and coaches see little conflict. Occasionally though, these differing focuses cause two distinct interpretations of events. This is where Sun Tzu’s advice comes into play.

For coaches to work with parents, they need to bring them close and to communicate. Coaches not only educate players, they also educate parents. Part of a youth coach’s job is to help parents understand ways they can help their child and to help them understand things from a team perspective. Good communication between coaches and parents goes a long away to keep things in perspective and under control. Good communication won’t make the viewpoints the same, but will make for a better understanding.