The 24-Hour Rule – for Parents

There is a time and a place for giving your kid’s coach a piece of your mind — and it’s most definitely 24 hours after you think it is

Steve Morris

| 3 min read


Six days a week, parents are free, even encouraged, to contact the coach with concerns, issues or questions. Game day should be like the Sabbath, a day free of confrontation. You’re stressed, your kid is stressed, and yes, the coach is stressed, too. The game unfolds quickly, with emotions soaring and crashing like a ball flying from one end of the field to the other. Errors abound and everyone – players, referees, and coaches – make them. Whether or not they affect the outcome, often an ache will lodge deep in your chest. Unless excised, it may metastasize, spreading a gloom that can affect your dinner, your evening and your very outlook on life. 

The natural impulse is to lay your troubles at the feet of the coach. He’s the root cause, right? So we plop down at the computer to compose a blistering email designed to bring him to his knees. As we write, we get even more churned up as we replay over and over his affront to our child. We finish with a searing flourish and hit “send”… and immediately a sickening sensation lodges in our stomach. Are we second guessing ourselves for overreacting? Or realizing that emailed rage rarely begets a mollifying response? Blood will have blood… 

A better prescription for PGSD — Post-Game Stress Disorder — is to take a “time out.” Smolder, stew, even write that email if the demon inside insists. But don’t send it. Pace and curse and swear to the heavens. But don’t reach for the phone. Mold a voodoo doll out of Play-Doh and acupuncture the hell out of it. But, whatever you do, DO NOT drive to the coach’s house. 

If, after a feverish night endlessly replaying the outrage in our heads, we waken to the same fire and fury, then go ahead and send the email or make the call. Chances are, though, the therapeutic properties of time and sleep have calmed us. Maybe even opened our eyes to consider the other side — to realize that the transgression was inadvertent, or minor, or our own mood refracting the events on the field. Ultimately, the parent who exercises restraint will get the better result. 

Excerpted from What Size Balls Do I Need: A Road Map for Survival in the Dizzying World of Youth Sports by Steve Morris. 

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