After you have coached for a couple of years, you will have figured out you have two groups to please, the kids, and the parents. It's often the parents who are the hardest to please as many have expectations of the team, the sport, their child, and you, that are impossible to live up to. Learning to handle the parents is mostly about setting the ground rules in your favor, early. The first step is the parents meeting.
Experienced coaches will tell you that getting together with the parents before the first time you step on the field can save you a season of aggravation and misunderstandings. It is your chance to create the first impression and lay out the ground rules for the parents and players. The key to having the meeting go in your favor is all about your preparation prior to the meeting. Here are a few suggestions for rules you may want to cover.
Start off by handing out the information sheet that you will create, to each parent as they arrive. When all of the parents have arrived, follow the outline of the information sheet. Introduce yourself to the parents, and explain your coaching philosophy. What you will emphasize, what aspects of baseball you will focus on.
Parents on the practice field - set your rules for whether you will allow non-coaches on the field during practice time. Some leagues have rules regarding insurance, some have rules regarding minimum coaching accreditation.
Practice arrival time - set a time by which players should be ready to practice. Whether that's 5 minutes before the field time, 30 seconds, or 30 minutes, if you don't set a time, be prepared for stragglers messing up your practice plan.
Game preparation - establish the time before a game that you want all the players at the field and completely dressed and ready to begin warm up. From that time until game time should be "coaches and players only". All other parents should be out of the dugout.
The players bench - many fields are set up for easy access from the stands to the players bench. Will you allow parents to talk to the players during the game? Will you limit parental visits to equipment and injury/illness situations? Some coaches find that allowing parents near the bench disrupts the concentration of players and detracts from the coaches instructions.
Parent instruction of players during games. Make it clear who the coach is, to both the parents and players, and tell the parents right now that they are not allowed to give tehir child instructuions during the game. They should not be positioning players, telling pitchers what to throw, when to run, or where to throw the ball. Encourage them to cheer and be enthusiatic. Don't let them be the sideline coach.
Discipline rules for players - under what situations will you discipline a player? At some point in your coaching career, expect to face the "problem child", and, guess what, the "problem parents". Rules set early can help you be fair and deal quickly with problems.
Expectations of the players. Tell the parents the same thing you will tell the kids.
Throughout the year, you may have occasion to refer back to the rules. Keep them with you, in your coaches binder, at every practice and at every game. When you need them, you will be glad you kept them.