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Before we get to the top ten, it has been coaching week in the uk and Uk Coaching have produced some great resources for coaches. Please do go and have a look. 

COACHES TOP TEN (for engaging parents)

This is my Top 10 songs for coaches to reflect on to support growth and change in their relationships with the parents of those that they coach.

How to use this blog:

  • Listen to the song.
  • Reflect on the questions in a short thought offering on each song.
  • Check out the further reading. 
  • This is not meant to the final word on the topic, but a question to pose using song! 
  • Contact me to ask questions or challenge what I’ve said!


Top Ten Parent Engagement songs for coaches…Number 10



We’re all in this together! High school musical! 

Too often the rhetoric about parents from coaches presents an ‘us vs them’ scenario. I’ve seen some shocking parent behaviour from a really small number of parents, but this small minority should not change our approach to parents. The reality is we are in this together. They are their kids and we have the privilege to coach, it a partnership, let’s see parents as assets (not just taxi’s who pay for everything.) 

Perhaps you can sing we are all in this together after each training session…perhaps not!

How does your environment help parents know that you value that we are all in this together?

Further reading: 

Understanding and working with Parents of young athletes By Camilia J. Knight and Rachel A. Newport. Chapter 27 in Sports Psychology for Young Athletes Ed by  by Camilla J. Knight, Chris G. Harwood, et al.

Top Ten Parent Engagement songs for coaches…Number 9



Another brick in the wall Part 2 By Pink Floyd!   

I’m confident parents are saying ‘We don’t need no education’ We might need support, encouragement, the opportunity to reflect and even to be challenged, but to be lectured? no thanks. Parents don’t want to be treated the way Pink Floyd portrays the stereotypical “bad” teacher and their relationship with those they instruct. Angry, aggressive and arrogant.  We know that just giving information does little to change ingrained habits and behaviours. I reckon most parents are trying to make up for the deficits from the way they were parented and at the same time embody what was good about their upbringing from a time before social media and smart phones. They are not looking to be lectured on what they need to do, rather they need to be supported. Parent engagement needs to looking at how sports coaches can be “coaching” parents to enable better outcomes for those they coach. Of course this will require some information exchange, but not from someone lording it over parents suggesting that they know what’s best for their situation.  How are you creating a learning environment which is ‘wooing’ parent engagement rather than putting up barriers?

Future reading:

This article means Prof Jeff French, someone who’s work on behaviour change grounds my practice.

Top Ten Parent Engagement songs for coaches…Number 8



 I’ve got the power by Snap: 

There is nothing wrong with having power, all the most influential leaders in history had power, some used it for good and others used it ill. It’s the same with coaches and sports organisations when it comes to parents. Self-awareness about where we have power and where we don’t when it comes to parents is essential for creating an effective partnership.   A last minute fixture change or a poorly communicated “dropping” of a child are ways in which unself-aware coaches use their power to create issues for parents and families. 

What power does your organisation have in its relationship with parents? What power do parents have? How can those powers be an asset to those you coach?

Future reading:

The culture code by Danial Coyle. This book contains some great examples of how how groups have used their power for good. 

Check out:

Magic Academy from Rusty and Fletch. They are masters is environment curation.  

Top Ten Parent Engagement songs for coaches…Number 7



Fix you by Cold Play 

We all see parent behaviour which is it unhelpful, behaviour I’m sure we’d like to “fix”. But is that your role? Is that your choice? We can create environments which support and encourage certain behaviours, behaviours which parents might adhere to while they are in our environment. However, we need to be careful not to don’t make the mistake of wanting parents to be perfect, because that is unattainable or judging someone as a good or bad parent based on what we see of them. All good parents have bad habits! Rather than trying to fix behaviours can you give parents the chance to reflect on what the challenges of being a parent are at this stage of their child’s development and life? Obviously you can offer some new tools and ideas, but not to fix rather to help parents shine. 

Further reading:

Have a look at Dr Suzanne Brown’s blog 

Further watching:

Here is a game I play with parents, not to fix, but to offer another way: 

Top Ten Parent Engagement songs for coaches…Number 6



Let’s get ready to rumble by Ant and Dec!

Are you ready for conflict with parents? Are you ready to rumble with parents? Put a bunch of kids learning and playing sport together with some coaches and add their parents means you have a large number of complex and dynamic human relationships. There will be conflict, even if coaches and parents are the most “well” behaved individuals on the planet! Conflict isn’t always bad, it can refine and be life giving, but for it to be helpful there needs to be structure to support healthy conflict rather than allowing conflict to happen without support. 

Do you have a written conflict process? Do you have parents to review your environment and season? Do you practice as coaches in responding to the common conflicts which arise in your environment? 

Further reading:

Dare to Lead by Brene Brown. 

Top Ten Parent Engagement songs for coaches…Number 5



Everybody hurts by  R.E.M. 

The biggest lie that is told before every sports fixture by parents as they prepare to watch their children play is not about how good they think their child is, it goes like this. “Hi how are you?, “I’m ok? and you? “Oh I’m ok thanks.” Clearly it is not the job of the sports coach to be a councillor and therapist to the parents of those they coach, but it is worth remembering that sometimes actions and behaviour are fuelled by pain. Historical pain, a row in the car on the way to the match, work issues, money issues and the rest.  Pain does not excuse bad parent behaviour, but in my experience having compassion and the wisdom to know that you don’t know what is going on in a person’s life can help you be more successful at navigating issues when they arise.  

Further reading:

Counselling for Toads: A Psychological Adventure by de Board, Robert | 20 Nov 1997


Top Ten Parent Engagement songs for coaches…Number 4



There’s No One Quite Like Grandma by St Winifred’s School Choir

Grandma we love you.

Grandma we love you and Grandpa, uncles, aunts, bothers  and sisters we love you. 

Sport is a whole family affair and yet parenting engagement in the sport world is still well below where it could be. Whole family engagement is woeful.  I’m invited to speak at a ‘parents’ event, I wonder if I should be invited to speak at a ‘family’ event as there are always grandparents and siblings there.  How are you providing for the ‘whole’ family in your parental engagement?  I love this quote from Alexander-Arnold the Liverpool player, it’s is very hard hitting.  How are you supporting those siblings who watch and wait in the cold and wet? 

Further reading: 

Top Ten Parent Engagement songs for coaches…Number 3



Tubthumping by Chumbawamba 

I get knocked down but I get up again…..

Have you been ‘knocked down” by a parent before or after a game, coaching session or in a long email they have sent late at night full of unchecked personal attacks. My guess is that most coaches have. Sorry, that sucks, but please get up again. Hopefully the work we are doing with parents is seeing this become less frequent.  Make sure your identity is more than being a coach and have some healthy outlets as well as a coaching mentor or supervisor who can provide you with the support to get up again.  How are you looking after you? 

Further reading:

Sevens Heaven by Ben Ryan. He had a lot of player family and political interference with his role as Fiji 7’s coaches.


Top Ten Parent Engagement songs for coaches…Number 2


Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla ice

“All right stop, collaborate and listen.”  No truer word said when it comes to working with parents. (All my kids know this whole song, I taught it to them once they had mastered the word “collaborate”).  Without collaboration with parents are we hindering the outcomes for those we coach? Collaboration is not without its challenges, so how do you collaborate in ways which support parents, give better understanding and strengthen your environment? 

Further reading:

Optimising family involvement in youth Sport by Travis E. Dorsch. Chapter 10 in Sports Psychology for Young Athletes by Camilla J. Knight, Chris G. Harwood, et al.

Number 1


‘I don’t know’ by Lisa Hannigan

Without knowing someone can we really work together for better outcomes for children? 

This is one of my all time favourite songs.  

  1. because it is a great tune,
  2. because the words speak of getting to know others without a bias about what they could be like. Coaches do you know your parents? What makes them tick, laugh or cry? Could you use those five mins walking back to the car to get to know what you don’t know about your parents?   

Further reading:

Understanding and working with Parents of young athletes By Camilia J. Knight and Rachel A. Newport. Chapter 27 in Sports Psychology for Young Athletes Ed by  by Camilla J. Knight, Chris G. Harwood, et al.

If I can help with your parent engagement do get in touch. I’ve been supporting organisations to engage effectively with parent for a while now. I’m not perfect, but I reckon together we can make a massive impact! 

Here are 10 activities and games you can play with parents(Click Here).

If you need support or would like to explore me coming to lead a parents meeting or coaches CPD for you, please do get in touch.