In Art Of Coaching Podcast

We’ve all experienced the individual that’s a little overzealous or involved when it comes to their child’s sport. Whether you’re a coach or fellow parent, how do you deal with this person? Is it possible to have productive conversations and change their behavior? Is it even worth our time? The answer to these questions is (in most cases) a resounding yes. It just requires some extra research, tact and self (yes, self) awareness. 

In this episode, I’ll give you practical tips for:

  • Recognizing the fundamental attribution error when addressing parents 
  • Asking better questions to understand their behavior
  • When, where and how to have the hard conversation
  • Achieving a productive result by making them part of the process

Effectively dealing with pushy sport parents comes back to the principles of Research, Relate and Reframe – the same ones I write about in my book, Conscious Coaching. If you haven’t picked up your copy you can do so by clicking here

For more on having hard conversations, generating better buy-in and tailoring your message to the person you’re dealing with, check out our online course, Bought In

Join Our Coalition Mentoring Program here

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Brett Bartholomew  00:01

I’ve talked about something numerous times in my presentations in my book in my previous work called fundamental attribution error. And it is simply put, that we tend to describe, or we tend to label other people’s behavior, as if it’s a personality issue, right? That person’s difficult. They’re rude. They’re this, they’re stubborn. Yet when we display similar aspects of that behavior, we say it’s a situation issue. Oh, I was angry, I just didn’t understand I was confused and I care too much. That is one of the biggest things you have to understand when you go into these conversations.


Brett Bartholomew  00:48

Welcome to the Art of Coaching podcast, a show aimed at getting to the core of what it takes to change attitudes, behaviors and outcomes in the weight room, boardroom classroom, and everywhere in between. I’m your host, Brett Bartholomew, I’m a performance coach, keynote speaker, and the author of the book Conscious Coaching. But most importantly, I’m a lifelong student interested in all aspects of human behavior and communication. I want to thank you for joining me. And now let’s dive into today’s episode.


Brett Bartholomew  01:15

I’m making my way to the clearing. It’s quiet. I’m in a park, the weather’s perfect. One of those days where it’s 75 degrees Fahrenheit, about 23 Celsius or 80 degrees Fahrenheit, if you’re somebody that hate the cold, even when it’s not really cold, 26 degrees Celsius, and the sun’s out, the air is crisp, right? It’s just the right feeling where you’re not even quite sure what to wear that day, and you don’t care because you just want to get outside. And there was silence exactly what I had been looking for that morning, the exact thing that I needed. I had had a day filled with distractions that day felt feeling like nothing I was doing was making the impact that it was intended to make. It just felt like I was off. You know those days. And suddenly, the silence was interrupted by what seemed like shouting in the distance. 


Brett Bartholomew  02:18

And so I got curious, I didn’t know if somebody needed help. I didn’t know somebody was coaching. Sometimes I like to observe when you know, I happen to be for a walk and I see somebody coaching soccer or you know, football practice. And those are two in the same for my international audience. Sorry. So American football or soccer, baseball, sometimes I just like to see the interactions. But this definitely wasn’t coaching. It was shouting. And I walk up and I start making my way through the clearing. And I see a father laying into his son. And I’m thinking, Well, what you know what’s going on here, I’m watching from afar still, and I don’t mean laying and there was no physical contact, just yelling at him and gyrating. And I look and I see. He’s not just yelling. He’s trained to what he thinks teach him how to do something. So I make my way through a little bit more of the brush, trying to do so inconspicuously. It’s hard, it’s a fall day. So there’s leaves on the ground, and they’re cracking under my feet, I certainly don’t want to look like a creeper. And I observed a little bit more closely. And it looks like he’s teaching them how to throw a Frisbee. Only teaching and what I was witnessing are drastically different things. He was telling him, hey, don’t drop your elbow, throw it harder. Why can’t you just do this? Why can’t you figure it out? No, use your wrist. Just yelling again. And again. And again. Here. Look at me, watch me. 


Brett Bartholomew  03:40

And if you’ve heard our earlier episode on feedback, you’re already starting to see some similarities. And I remember watching this for a little bit, I eventually I couldn’t watch anymore. You know, it’s a feeling you get when you see somebody that clearly something means a lot to them. And they’re trying to impart knowledge on somebody else, but they have no idea how to dial into that same frequency. So what should have been coaching turned into streaming? And no doubt what should have been a learning session turned into something that that little boy probably didn’t like so much. And I go home, and I’m telling my wife about it, and I get back to work. And later that day, I opened up my Instagram and I had a DM from a listener. And his name was Luis and he had said, Good day coach Brett, and following your podcast for two years, a big fan of your work and it helped me in coaching. I just want to ask a question because this stresses me out. Now this is related to what I saw on that park that day. He said, I have two new youth softball athletes.


Brett Bartholomew  04:38

I’ve been training them for a month. Here’s the issue. Their dad’s always there when we’re doing our training. And he keeps correcting us. He’s just over coaching everything and I’m seeing the faces of his daughters. They’re so stressed every time his dad their dad starts to speak. I actually start to get a little bit embarrassed in front of them when he’s trying to correct them in front of me, acting as if He knew better. What are your recommendations? How can I address this? How can I build buy in? How can I educate the father without offending? 


Brett Bartholomew  05:09

Guys, how many of you have witnesses no matter what profession you’re in, my brother owns a restaurant, he coaches a little league baseball, I have a good friend. She runs a business and she coaches soccer on the weekends. And there are people in a wide variety of fields who are coaches or their children or coach. And they all have witnessed that crazy sport parent. And that’s not my vernacular, right? I know, we have to be careful with labels. But sometimes we also just have to call things what it is that overzealous, anxious. Sometimes they care a little bit too much sport parent. And I get these questions in droves. How do I deal with them? How do I do that? 


Brett Bartholomew  05:48

So today’s episode, we’re going to talk about that. Because let’s be honest, we’ve all to a degree loss are cool. Sometimes when trying to teach something, I know I’m guilty. We’ve all lost our cool trying to impart knowledge. And it doesn’t seem like somebody’s getting it. But there’s this line. There’s this line, that you know, when it’s crossed, and you see it. And this line isn’t age dependent. Really, it doesn’t matter if this is a eight year old, trying to learn a new skill or somebody a little later on in their life trying to learn something, there’s these things aren’t okay. But let’s address it, especially as it pertains to youth today. And you can apply it in many different ways. Now, I have to admit, a great failing of mine guys, is trying to find ways to educate in a wide variety of mediums. So I know that familiarity breeds contempt. And some of you are not gonna like me for saying this. But the podcast medium is restrictive in some circumstances to teaching certain concepts. So I am going to give you a lot of tips today. But I am also going to encourage you if this is something you really want to learn about, check out my book Conscious Coaching and our online course Bought In, you do not have to be an athlete or a coach to benefit from these things. Do I use that terminology? Yes, do Navy SEALs use the terminology of these things, your business leaders use their own terminology in their books, yes, you can still learn from them. 


Brett Bartholomew  07:11

I wish I could tell you that I could teach every single thing perfectly in one course, one book or one podcast, but these things go together like an ecosystem. So again, I know oftentimes, it comes as a hard sell, and this and that. But I also need you to trust me that when I put things out into the world, it is for a purpose. And it is because you’re not going to be able to cover everything in one medium, but I am going to do my best to outline just some simple concepts today that give you something to go off of so that when you see that parent, or when you see that overzealous coach, when you see that overzealous person in general, that difficult personality, you can address some things. Okay. And I also have stuff on YouTube about this. So, Luis, and I hope I’m pronouncing your name correctly, because we get people from all over the world. If it’s Louis, I apologize. Thank you for this question. All right. 


Brett Bartholomew  08:02

Now let’s dive into it guys behavior is a tricky thing. It is. And the number one thing that I see and how I want to attack this today is what you have to resist the urge to do when you are trying to correct somebody right? Again, whether it’s a pushy parent, a pushy coach, it’s all about pushy, pushy, pushy. There’s something you have to understand first and foremost. And it’s that education, or just taking the standpoint of, hey, I’m going to educate this person out of that behavior. rarely works. Now hear me out. Okay, hear me out on these things.


Brett Bartholomew  08:39

I’ve talked about something numerous times in my presentations in my book in my previous work called fundamental attribution error. And it is simply put, that we tend to describe, or we tend to label other people’s behavior, as if it’s a personality issue, right? That person is difficult. They’re rude. They’re this, they’re stubborn. Yet when we display similar aspects of that behavior, we say it’s a situation issue. Oh, I was angry, I just didn’t understand I was confused, and I care too much. That is one of the biggest things you have to understand when you go into these conversations. Now, don’t worry, I’m gonna give you a lot of topics too. But we have to start with a foundation. You have to look at your life. And think about times when you don’t respond to things the way you wish you would have. You need to look at your life and think of when are there situations where somebody has educated you on the best way to do something, or you know, the best way to do something. But because something has gotten your emotions so flared, you reacted in a way that you just weren’t proud of? Well, you need to understand that this happens to everybody else too. It especially happens to parents. 


Brett Bartholomew  09:47

When you’re talking about parents, you were talking about people who have this human being that they brought into the world that they care so much about. There are so many complex emotions that go into becoming a parent. And I know many of you understand this because your parents themselves. So, you know, I’m not trying to tell you what to feel, I’m just trying to orient everybody around the realities of these things. So when you see this child that you brought into the world that you raised, and that is doing something, you want the best for them, you want the best for them, and you want them to achieve success. Now, there’s a fine line here, because we all know the parent, the individual that to them successes, them somehow living, you know, the parents failed dreams vicariously through the son that is never healthy. That’s never healthy in any circumstance, not just parenting and coaching. That’s not healthy in any circumstance, no matter what the relationship is. Right? So that’s a separate issue. 


Brett Bartholomew  10:43

But when you come at certain things, you have to orient yourself around the fact that what you’re seeing, you can’t just label somebody as this person’s crazy, they’re rude, they’re pushy, they’re this, you always have to get to the discerning, you have to discern Why Why might this be the case? What is the context surrounding it. And if you just lead into this person’s pushy, I’m going to educate them, I’m going to let them know all these facts of you know why we’re doing it this way, or why that might not be a great way to motivate their son or daughter, what you’re doing is you’re going into somebody’s life, a part of their life that you don’t really understand. Right? So there’s already misunderstanding, and then you’re going to solve it by giving them more information. Guys, we’ve seen this enough, whether it’s anti smoking campaigns, whether it’s about drinking and driving seat belts, whether it’s getting people to vote, just giving people information is not enough. Because there you have to understand some parents just don’t even know enough about the sport, the skill, the realities of the athletic levels of their children, the goals of their training, there are so many opportunities in situations where, you know, just misunderstandings can arise, that if you think you’re just going to go on and inform them and teach them and educate them, you’re more likely to see tempers flare. Now, this is tricky, because I’ll admit, you know, when I worked in Arizona, I mean, there are so many parents that have their children play year round baseball, and there was no shortage of times, and somebody would come in and be like, you know, Billy’s 12. And he’s already throwing, you know, 75 miles an hour. And we think if we can just get a little bit more mobility here and a little bit more core strength that I’m hearing a parent, tell me what they think is right for their son.


Brett Bartholomew  12:30

Now you can take two routes, you can take the route of tuning them out and thinking to yourself, Well, I’m this specialist here, I understand what your son or daughter needs. And the rest of what they say just becomes womp, womp, womp, womp womp. Or you can actually listen to the undertones of what they’re saying. What they’re saying oftentimes is I have a child who I think has a unique ability, and I want the best for them. And I’m going to tell you all this information, because I think if I tell you this information, you also will want the best for them or will understand how much I care. And I want you to do everything you can to make this great for them. 


Brett Bartholomew  13:06

Oftentimes, that’s what they’re saying, Guys, when we try to give people more information, we’re trying to enhance understanding. So there can be some level of attunement, but we let our own egos and biases misinterpret a lot of these things. So I’m just telling you understand that when you see these things, appropriate or inappropriate, and it’s always inappropriate for people to be yelling at kids and doing these things, you have to understand the complexity of the emotions that underpin that behavior. And you have to understand how naive it is to think that you’re just gonna go explain things away to them. Now, you know, generally I’ve gotten better results when a parent comes in like that, you know, I listen to them, I make sure they understand that they are heard, I’ll try to rephrase and summarize This goes hand in hand with what I talked about, in my book, Conscious Coaching, the three R approach, right? If anybody remembers it, hopefully you’re seeing it with me, research relate and reframe. This goes into the complexity of our framework, and my online course Bought In where we talked about even different archetypes, because you’re gonna see different archetypical representations of parenting behavior, you’re gonna see some people who Yeah, they’re over the top yelling, you’re gonna see some people who, you know, it’s like, they’re hyper involved, maybe they don’t yell, but they’re hyper involved. And they’re like, almost fanatical, you’re gonna see many representations of this. But you know, they’re, they’re always thinking about, hey, this is what I think is best for my child. And we’ve got to remove some of that emotional complexity, right? So yes, you could write a blog and you could direct them to it, guys, you could do so many things and direct them to it. But like, that’s not gonna be the what like I used to make the mistake of sending I’d give parents or research or coaches research, you know, and be like, Hey, here’s an idea of kind of what we’re doing. You know, I don’t know if you appreciate the science but if you are somebody that likes that information, here’s this like, how dumb is that? Now there are some parents that loved it. But you see the messiness here, people have busy lives, the likelihood that they’re going to go do that, right? It’s just not not always the case. So when it comes to trying to teach them, it is misinformed to think that you could send them a blog, a monthly newsletter, or that you could just do all these different things, and they’re going to understand it, you have to get down to their level. And that can be hard to do if you don’t understand that perspective. Right? That’s, that’s a huge piece there. 


Brett Bartholomew  15:28

And you know, as as an example, again, think about this, think how many of you guys are listening and I mean, this respectfully, and you’ve heard about my book, you’ve heard about these other resources, you’ve heard about things guests have shared? Have you necessarily always engaged with them? Probably not. Right? Some of you have, some of you have gone through all these resources. And, and the podcast is a way to like edify and really lock these things in. But other review, like, Hey, I follow you on social media, and I listen to your podcast, even though we tell you, that’s not the big picture. So even though that seems like a lateral example, it’s not guys, giving people information and giving them access to things is not enough to change their behavior. It is just not, you have to understand that and you need to understand to where you may be difficult. 


Brett Bartholomew  16:11

And that leads me to my next point, right, the first one being education doesn’t always work. The second one is, and this is a contextual or situation one, let’s say there’s an argument going in front of the crowd, let’s say that there’s parents getting heated. And again, I know this happens to many of you that maybe coach a youth sport, or what have you, parents will get heated in the crowd, you are never going to win, ever, by getting in a screaming match with somebody in public or debate with them in public. Right? Like, when it comes to discussing something, it’s not even appropriate to do it in front of the kid, in my opinion. Now, again, this is situational. So you don’t need to write to me and be like, well, actually, alright, this is situational. But generally, you need to treat these people think of a time where you can have a discussion with them, you can find some privacy, or you can deal with those problems at a later date. When people are in front of crowds, there is a tremendous amount of things that go on. Right? We talked about social complexity, if we talk about things that drive behavior, it is environment, right, real or perceived people will act differently, depending on their physical environment, trust me, it depends on social factors. Again, what are do they have a fear of judgment? Are they trying to prove something to somebody? What are the influences and popular influences of that day


Brett Bartholomew  17:28

of that culture of that region of that local crowd, anything like that. So when you’re considering social factors, and you think you’re going to win in a debate with somebody in public, Hey, that’s not the way we do things here, or hey, you know, you let me coach your child, or, Hey, we really, you know, starting to debate that you’re just going to elevate those emotions, right. So thinking that you’re going to educate them. And thinking that you’re going to win an argument in public are too awful, awful, awful strategies. And I’m trying to give you the awful strategies, because I’m trying to save you guys from going online and reading some article that’s like, hey, you know, just just use positive framing, use this use that I’m trying to give you guys the tips that you’re not going to see other places, right? So so much of this goes into to like, half the time guys winning if you want to look at winning an argument which you shouldn’t, arguments aren’t to be won, just go into hearing somebody out. 


Brett Bartholomew  18:22

I’ve had a circumstance where I again, I had to address a parent who became a little bit sycophantic. They had a 13 year old girl who played competitive soccer, again, football for those of you on other parts of in other parts of the world. And she was getting stress fractures, you know, like she was dealing with, they were having your play through stressful fractures, there are so many different things going on, she had an issue with her foot. And, you know, I was trying to understand what this parent thought, you know, was was best for their child. And I just made a point to hear them out. And what I found is the parents anxiety in this case, I’m not saying this, as in every case, but I’m trying to give you wide perspectives. They were talking about how, you know, it was their daughter’s choice. And I’m kind of thinking yeah, yeah, it’s your daughter’s choice to play through tremendous amounts of pain. But the more I started to interact with their daughter, and have conversations, I noticed this sense of anxiousness. Every conversation was, well if I don’t play in the showcase, this is going to happen. And if I don’t do this, this is going to happen. And I don’t do this, this is going to happen. And I said why why do you think these things? Why do you think that this one showcase is going to determine the rest of your life at 13. 


Brett Bartholomew  19:34

And what she had heard it from is one of her friends. And one of her friends in her peer group was a part of you know, this, this higher level soccer team. And her friend had a dad who was an influential coach, and she spent a lot of time around this friend. And so she had all these nerves and so she would go home and tell her parents who her parents were great folks. These were people that just wanted you know, they were pretty lax they wanted her to and And it’s funny because her name was Lex, but they just kind of wanted, you know, they said, we want the best, we don’t force her to practice, we don’t do this. And I’ve heard that before. So you get skeptical, but the more I got to know them, I saw that was the case, they had said, she just comes down, and she won’t, she won’t stop all day. And so it makes us nervous. And I guess we’ve kind of let this seep into our life. So when we hear her say, she’s not going to get this, you know, opportunity again, or she’s not going to be able to play and we look at the money that we pay for her to be able to play. And we see how much it means we’re, we’re, you know, she’s in tears, and, you know, all these kinds of things, and she doesn’t always give us the facts about how much she’s in pain, and I’m not a medical doctor, you know, we’re just doing the best we can. Because if she doesn’t play soccer, she gets really upset and down, and her schoolwork, you know, her schoolwork suffers. So I’m sitting there thinking, Wow, you’re so a lot of times we can think it’s the parent, we can think, Oh, look at Mr. And Mrs. So and So bringing their daughter here again, she’s clearly like having an issue here. I mean, we were adapting and modifying workouts and, and kind of trying to find a lot of regressions for her. So she didn’t get hurt. But what we found is it really was driven by not only the child, but the child’s peers. And I mean peers in terms of lateral peers, again, friends, and people they perceive to be aspirational versions of themselves, whether that’s other coaches or what have you. And we have that attitude in society, this whole play through the pain, Do this, do that. And when that trickles down, we’re surprised. So you know, I’m just trying to give you different angles of sometimes without a doubt, it is the parent themselves, who is pushy, and unrealistic, and all these kinds of things. And that’s because, again, they may want the best, they’re misinformed or what have you. And then other times it can come from, you know, the child or the athlete themselves. 


Brett Bartholomew  21:48

So you have to consider that before you just go around thinking that you know what’s best, because you have a degree, a certification and a license, I don’t think any I mean, many of us, right? Have those kinds of experiences as it pertains to psychology and behavior change. I mean, it’s even a reason why I’m diving deeper into my doctoral work in this space, is there’s a responsibility that goes with that. Just because you’re an expert in your field does not mean you are an expert in dealing with people, I’m gonna say that again, just because you are an expert in the technical aspects of your field, does not mean you’re an expert, when it comes to knowing how to deal with people. Those are very different things. And being an expert in people requires you to not only be tremendously reflective with yourself, you understanding the research of sociology and behavior change. But you also putting yourself in a lot of situations where you have to deal with a lot of difficult people and context rich, complex situations. Right. So that’s huge. 


Brett Bartholomew  22:52

Now, you may have caught me in the earlier statement saying what you just said, parents are misinformed. So if I’m not supposed to educate them, how do I inform them, guys you make them are part of the process. And here’s what I mean, there was a time when I had a parent come in, and you know, again, they thought that they knew what was best for their child from a training standpoint, and to a degree they do, right, they live with their kids, they understand and they see some things but they don’t understand the biomechanics, the biology and all the nuances of training. But I knew what this parent wanted to see. And he happened to come always at the end of training, where he would just see, you know, what, what we were finishing with, you know, or he was at the beginning, so he never saw the meat of that session. So you know, the beginning, he’s gonna see the warm up, he’s gonna see some foam rolling, he’s gonna see some things like that, at the end, they’re gonna see kind of the last parts of whatever conditioning we did that day, any kind of cooldown, mobility, work, active recovery, anything like that. And so he’s not missing the part of this session where we’re doing some of the really intensive strength training, some of in some aspects, sometimes they’re really nuanced power training. And so he would come every day and just be like, you know, they need to get more explosive and my strength coaches will love this, you know, just not the first step isn’t good. And, you know, they really need more, your comes a buzzword, core strength, and, you know, I just don’t feel like they’re getting enough core. And it’s like, Oh, my God, all right, yeah, I got it first step and core and all this stuff. And no matter how many times I told them, like, Hey, we got it. The bias of some people is is all they see. They think is all there is. Right? We see the world as we see it. 


Brett Bartholomew  24:29

So I started experimenting one time, and I took out my phone, and I started recording, you know, their child doing a really complex exercise because their child wanted a lot of kind of feedback anyway, and everybody appreciates different modes of learning, that’s fine. And so periodically, I’d be like, Hey, here’s your posture. Here’s what I mean. You know, and I’d show them the video, but then I’d also kind of send it or recap with the parent at the end. Now, sometimes I knew that parent well enough that I just texted and be like, you know, Kaylee or Bobby or Susie or Sally or Sammy is doing great today look at this just added some weight to the bar. Or if they were doing a basic plank or another trunk exercise, I’d show them that. And I wasn’t crazy about it, right? Like we’re talking guys like one text a session, you know, and it was when we were off the floor or what have you. But it was amazing, the minute they got a different visual representation of what was going on there. Like I love it. I love it. You can do whatever you want, we trust you. And I’m like, really, you know, and I joked with one of them before I did this show, I called them and, and told them I was going to be talking about this. And what they said is, yeah, man, you know, I’ve been guilty of that my whole life, I am very much just this visual person. If I don’t see something, I assume it’s not happening. I know, it’s not a good thing. That was a big learning point in my life is apparent. And that’s just sometimes reality. You know, that’s why some people don’t believe in something until they see it. That is just how some of us are wired. But it’s a simple way where I didn’t have to win through any argument. Do you understand that? There was no argument and there was no formal education, there was an image. And there’s a reason we say that images speak 1000 words, right? An image is worth 1000 words, I guess some people somebody on Instagram the other day said it’s a million words, whatever. But the point is, is just showing an image and making somebody feel like they were a part of that process, kind of making them feel like they were in the room. Fixed it. And you know what, guys, I’m going to be honest, I’m like this to a degree. I’m recording this during the pandemic, I got a 10 month old, nearly 10 month old baby boy,


Brett Bartholomew  26:30

I have to put that disclaimer in there in case somebody wants to fact check. And he goes to daycare twice a month. And we’re doing that, you know, because we listen, like we vetted the daycare, you know, I know again, like they’re wearing masks, they follow procedures, it’s a very tight ship. But our child’s still in our belief, and you don’t have to share this belief, he needs to be exposed to some things from an immunity standpoint, he’s got a runny nose, he came home, and he had a fever the other day, and he’s got these things and kids are gonna get sick. 


Brett Bartholomew  27:00

Here’s my point, they send us little updates throughout the day, let us know when Bronson was taking a nap, did he eat and they’ll send us one photo, one photo of the little guy playing. And that photo means a great deal to us. So what I did, there was no different than what any kind of daycare or responsible daycare is going to do when you’re sending somebody that means the world to you. Somebody that is in many aspects your world, their child, their kid, you know, a member of their family, you know, an image. And some of you may experience this on the other end of the spectrum, too. If you have parents who are in, you know, care facilities, if you have any, I mean, I know like my, my wife, her grandparents are in a facility right now. And like to be able to get an update from either her parents, or you know, just a picture means a lot. And so there are ways to educate people without ramming it down their throats, make them feel like they’re a part of something, as opposed to making them feel like they’re a piece of something, you would want that too. 


Brett Bartholomew  28:05

All right, let’s imagine things went really poorly. Let’s imagine you’ve heard, you’ve heard somebody out there making public scenes, they, you know, you’ve tried bringing them into certain situations, you’ve tried educating them, you’ve tried doing everything that you think is right, guys, it may be time for a mediator, right. And before you do these, again, I’m always a big believer and looking at yourself, we’re very big on thinking other people are the problem. So I’m going to give a glancing blow at these kinds of things. Make sure that you’ve checked your body language, make sure that you have you know, as have you assessed how you’re interacting. Do you know what your tone is like? Because I’ve seen a lot of coaches who think they’re educating and helping, and they’re really coming off as condescending, they’re really coming off as a know-it-all or condescending or kind of stuffy, because, you know, a lot of times they’ll be like, well, you know, so and so’s dad said this, and he’s a dentist and I don’t go into his office and tell them how to pull a tooth. Okay, I mean, I get it that that stuff’s frustrating. But like, you’re in the situation, what are you going to do about it? So I’m going to assume, and it’s a gross assumption, and generally an accurate one. But for the sake of the length of this podcast, we’re going to touch I’m going to assume you’ve looked really closely at yourself. I say this enough in all my other things, like when there’s an issue number one person you should be starting with is yourself. But let’s say things have gotten really bad, it is time for some kind of mediator. Right? 


Brett Bartholomew  29:33

And what that situation looks like, I’m not sure but there’s a because it can be so many different ways. And we’ve only had I’ve only had this experience once in 15 years of, of working with athletes where there had to actually be a sit down. Because we knew you know, listen, it was getting to a point where as a distraction, it wasn’t going to be a fit, but I knew that I couldn’t like just kick the kid out. That’s not beneficial for the kid. If the parent cost the mat and the parent threatened away, you know, well, we’re going to quit. And we’re going to do this. So I had to talk to my superior, because that would be loss of money for the business. So we had to actually have somebody from the company sit down and have a chat with a parent. And I was a part of that. And we kind of laid out our perspectives, and we discuss these things. And again, then a constructive conversation was had now it usually goes one of a few ways. The person just stays angry throughout the entire thing. And they go long and loud about how they don’t believe Susie, Sally, Timmy, Tommy is getting what they need, we try to come at it from the standpoint of we, you know, slow cook, and we look at, you know, an 11 year old isn’t half of a 22 year old, we have to be very careful. And we have to usually find some kind of middle ground, Hey, what are what are KPIs. And now that gets back into the right kind of education is set expectations, you can save yourself a lot of trouble guys, at the beginning, if you just set clear expectations, and this is what I started doing the rest of my career, somebody’s kids wanted to train with me, I had a very long talk with the parents beforehand. And I said, Listen, it’s my honor. I love working with children, I want to help. 


Brett Bartholomew  29:55

But here’s the reality, this is a process. And progress is going to be slow. In some areas fast and others every kid is different. It’s not that there’s some unique snowflake. But biology is a tricky thing. rapport and building relationships and true buy in with the kid is a tricky thing. And I need to know that you are okay with this. Now, sometimes they’ll say that and they’re not. And we’ll talk about a story of that in a minute. But your son or daughter is going to learn and basically relearn how to move. And some of these things are going to look non sport related, right, because there’s a lot of parents that are obsessed with sports specificity. But these are things that are going to set them up for a healthier future. And this was real guys,


Brett Bartholomew  31:57

I mean, I’ve seen plenty of athletes that come in, and they’re just not, they’re not great athletes, you know, 13,14 15, all of a sudden, 18 they butt into that, you know, and they become that great athlete, I mean, God, I was probably a better athlete at 21 than I was 16, 18. And that probably still rang true at 25. And, you know, getting them to understand expectations and what, what the environment of that place is like, is critical. And same time if you’re coaching a team, if you’re not, you know, a strength coach, but you’re coaching a team. And you’re seeing more of that now, you know, you’re seeing people having to sign forms and waivers and this now, it’s not foolproof, somebody can sign a form that says, hey, I understand, you know, to let the coach do their job. And this is a volunteer activity. And you know, and they could still act like jackasses, you know, to a degree, nothing’s going to solve for that. 


Brett Bartholomew  32:45

And there are situations that begin to get untenable. And only you guys know when that is for you. All right, I can’t sit here and make some podcast and work in anybody else. And tell you how to discern when enough is enough for you. Beyond the obvious if somebody lays a hand on a kid, you know what to do, right? You report them if somebody does. So let’s let’s not get into the extremes here. But there is never going to be some manual that says, hey, in every situation, here’s how to handle this appropriately and perfectly for you that’s going to be dependent on the culture, the relationships, the age range is what I can tell you what to do is set clear expectations. Look at yourself, make the parent a part of something so they understand the bigger picture of what’s going on. 


Brett Bartholomew  33:30

Don’t think that just force feeding them education is going to work. understand the complexities of human behavior. All right, another thing that can be useful is identifying their archetype. Wait, what and, and we’ve talked about this ad nauseam till I’m blue in the face, but I know I get new listeners daily, and I’m thankful for that. Archetypes are nothing more than an example of something I talked about 16 Different athlete archetypes in my book, you can replace the word athlete with just person, right? Because these apply in any sort of circumstance. An archetype is just a motif. If you’ve seen a movie, there are archetypes there’s the hero, the villain, the bad boy, the rebel, the this, the whatever. And we all play that role. You know somebody in your life that’s a worrier. You know, somebody in your life that is the control freak, sometimes those are two in the same you know, somebody in your life that thinks that the smartest person in the room, you know, somebody in your life, it’s the awkward person. We all know these things. And we also know that that person generally is not that way in every circumstance, right? And this goes beyond the scope of this podcast for now. We’ll do a future one on archetypes if you want. And again, those are all outlined on my online courses on all those things at But when you do see kind of what this archetypical behavior is have this quote unquote pushy parent or difficult individual that lends insight to right dealing with somebody who is just one of those parents that’s like nosy and why to know everything they did, and they’re hyper analytical is very different than dealing with a parent who is downright pushy, offensive, and screaming, that is going to call for different tactics. So what I’m telling you to do is create your own internal playbook, you see a pushy parent, you see somebody like this, or you need to look at a couple of things, one, look at yourself, what am I doing that could contribute to this? And if you’ve interacted with them before, right, do you? 


Brett Bartholomew  35:28

Do you know how you’re coming across, do you get any feedback on that? Have you done any communication training in your life, to know how to resolve these things, because that’s the truth too. You can read books, you can read leadership articles, you can do all this stuff, you can listen to me right now. And if you’ve never actually received training, on how to resolve conflict, like how good you think you’re gonna be at these things, building buy-in communication, and conflict resolution, all in all, and they are under the same umbrella require training. That’s what our business does. And there’s a reason we do that, because poor communication impacts us all. So look at yourself. And if you guys are interested in that, just go to That’s all simple. If you feel like you know, what I have? I do, I think I’ve, I’ve addressed it the right way. And this is what I mean by right. And this is objective and subjective feedback. I’ve gotten on those things, too, to really know that and, you know, I videotape myself, and I’ve tried paying attention to my tonality. And I’ve asked certain coworkers, and I’ve even talked to the parent about, you know, these kinds of things, and you’ve checked that box. Right, let’s imagine you’ve done that. Then assess the situation. What do you know? All right, well, I know that, you know, his daughter, you know, has been having a hard time at school. And, you know, I know that this means a lot, or that she’s got three sisters that are pro athletes. And so there’s a lot of pressure in that family in general, right? It’s almost like being a part of the Kennedys. And there’s all these things maybe, or like, what May you not know, like, in my circumstance, that one parent example I told you, it wasn’t so much coming from the parent, as we later found out, it was coming from one of her friends, and then the tertiary influence of her friend’s father, who was a high level coach. And so these things trickled down. 


Brett Bartholomew  37:16

So again, we look at yourself first, analyze the complexity of the situation, what do you know for sure? Or what do you think you know, for sure about the context? What might you not know? What are your blind spots? And we’re going to do a whole month on blind spots personally and professionally, probably in December. And then look at what are the archetypical examples of their behavior? Well, they’re just they’re not they’re not angry. They just seem to be very OCD nitpicky, they seem overly concerned. And again, like or now they are angry, and they make a scene and they’re pushy, and it’s uncomfortable, you know, you’re gonna have to interact with those people in different ways. You are, you’re going to have to learn and say, Okay, how do I come at this directly? Do I come at it indirectly? What kind of information? Are these people already? You know,


Brett Bartholomew  38:08

what do they resonate with? In general, right? Like, you have to know your audience. And that’s why again, there’s no just one size fits all if if, guys, if there’s one thing you should follow me for, you know, it’s like, I’m against the one size fits all. So and that’s the conflict I have is people will listen and think, man, can you just give me a drop down list? And tell me all to do what the how to do all these things? Can you just tell me how to deal with every people in every circumstance in every No, I mean, I can. But that’s, that’s a four day process. And there’s no guarantee that that’s always going to work. Because even if I gave you the blueprint to them, you need to know the blueprint to you. Right like there’s there’s Home Depot’s and Lowe’s that have tools for everything you could imagine. And there are instructions online for how to build just about everything, to those things guarantee that you guys are going to be master craftsmen. We’ve got to get out of this mindset that if you’re just given the blueprint, the resources and all this, that you’re going to be perfect without you putting skin in the game and you interacting directly. That’s not reality. Go to another leadership podcast if you want that. But they’re lying to you. They’re lying. I can give you financial education, all the money in the world. And there’s still people that are going to be broke. I can give you a toothbrush, mouthwash, and toothpaste and there are still people that don’t brush their teeth. Right? 


Brett Bartholomew  39:29

So understand yourself, understand the context, look at the archetypical behaviors. Think about what communication delivery method might be the best for them, experiment and assess, right? You keep these people informed by making them a part of something and you have a procedure for dealing with these kinds of things. You listen, you offer a set of solutions. If those don’t work, you prepare. You get a formal meeting and you figure out a way Hey, How can I how can we get on the same page? Here? We care? This is our plan. These are your thoughts. Where are we at with this situation? Right? And how can how can we deal with this in a healthier, more pragmatic way? All right. You’d be surprised guys, if if you just, if you, if you target your communication, your patient, you think about what could be the influencing factors, you create a plan, you keep your composure, and you respond proactively always acknowledging their points and where they’re coming from, but also standing firm on your ground. And knowing what you stand for, and setting those expectations, being clear on them and reinforcing them, you’re gonna go a long ways. 


Brett Bartholomew  40:43

And like I said, the, the the whale in this is this, the things we didn’t cover are the things that are hopefully obvious, but I’m gonna say it. If you ever suspect that something is abusive, if you ever suspect that something is out way out of bounds, right, and only you can determine what that means. But obviously, any kind of prolonged or verbal or suspect, you suspecting physical abuse, you need to call and report these people immediately, you know, or you need to go through the process that you go through it your work, report it to whoever you need to report it, there’s always a chain of command, right? Like those things I shouldn’t have to tell you. But this is all about people that feel like I just don’t know how to manage it. There’s no automatic buy in button. There’s no checklist, you have to go through these processes, I recommend you start with yourself. Because there’s one thing I’ve learned in the 34 years, I’ve been a part of this planet, and being married. And being a leader of a remote team and having coached over 1000 athletes across you know, whether it’s pro kids, this, that working with organizations working with military is that usually we are the first thing that we need to look at, we need to get better, we have to focus on understanding ourselves before we can go address the situation because it is not as simple as positive attitudes and checklists and go get them. You know, show them the way and inspire them and inform them, you will alienate them, you will piss them off. You need to come out this from a lot of different angles. 


Brett Bartholomew  42:10

Guys, I hope that was helpful. Again, you know, I this was more of a rant, none of this is scripted. I’m trying to give you things a mix of stuff, yes, that I talked about in my book, but also a lot of things that I don’t because I know many of you have already bought the book, you’ve done these things, and I don’t want to be redundant. And, you know, that means that sometimes it’s not always going to be this clean, perfectly formatted podcast, you got to decide if you want that or if you want a real because again, it’s my job to kind of show you where these things can go wrong and maybe give you ideas of things that you didn’t expect. And you know, just not go down the cliche rabbit hole because I don’t think that helps anybody, right? I haven’t we all had enough of those things. Listen, we all know somebody that could use this advice. We all know somebody who’s a coach, or you know has been impacted by a parent. That is pushy, all these kinds of things. Please send this to him, you can help the podcast out a great deal. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, you know, we have a Patreon page, you can go to If that doesn’t work art of Either way, we are really really grateful. We’re just trying to help. And if you are somebody that wants more information on training youth, right, like what’s the right age? What should they do? How should they do it? All those things? Check out a prior podcast we did with my friend Jim Kielbaso It is everything you could ever want to know about training youth athletes from one of the best again, Jim Kielbaso, that’s KIELBASO. Guys, if you’re subscribed to the iTunes library, it is not hard to find. Just go to Art of Coaching podcast, subscribe, tell a friend about it. Look it up. It’s everything you could want to know about training youth athletes. Until next time, guys, this is Brett Bartholomew for the Art of Coaching, signing off

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