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Q: I've had a problem with a parent all season long who think his child should be a starter. I'm giving it my best shot and only have so much room on the field for starting players. What do you suggest?

A: At the center of your being must be a solid core of integrity. Without that integrity, you find yourself appeasing parents to keep them off of your back and in the process, you do a great injustice to at least one other player personally and the team as a whole. You hit the nail on the head, you only have so much room on the field for starting players. PERIOD. When you spend your time at practice working with the team and do what you can to put the right combination on the field, you have to make your best call. This is where integrity comes in - do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons. This won't make you immune to criticism, but it'll make you immune to justified criticism.

Handling this with parents is often difficult. I always simply told them that I put together the best group I could on the field at a given time, but that nothing is permanent. I discussed thoughtfully what I saw were things that their child needed to spend more time with and even offered more of my personal time to pitch into the effort. While giving them a response that didn't appease their hurt, I did give them a plan for improving upon matters. Whatever you do, DO NOT change the lineup merely because you were confronted by a parent unless you're ready to handle a whole crowd of them. Remember that parent complaints normally begin within earshot of other parents, so while you're trying to preserve the feelings of the complaining parent, there are others who are in the distance measuring you by your response.
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