Parent Management – Part 4: Disciplining Their Student-Athlete

To a student-athlete getting benched or extra conditioning as a consequence for rule violations or misconduct is the same as incarceration or public execution. Sports teaches harsh lessons, but coaches’ and program leaders’ lessons can be harsher…because it feels personal.

Every student-athlete will face a discipline moment. Disciplining a student-athlete always impacts two parties – the student-athlete and the program. For student-athletes, it’s growth development and accountability. For the program, it reinforces expectations.

Some discipline moments require parental involvement. When it does, remember this important premise – clearly show how discipline benefits the student-athlete and program. Yes, consider parent comments or suggestions. But, always discipline for what’s in the best interest of the student-athlete and the program.

No parent wants their child in a position requiring discipline, but it happens. Sports professionals shouldn’t rely on, “Jimmy/Jane knew the rules, they broke one and now he/she must pay” for justifying discipline. Discipline is a growth opportunity.

When parents become involved with disciplining, use the Five-Step D.R.O.P.P. Approachin this specific order:

  1. Describe positive contributions their child has made
  2. Review program and athlete expectations with parents
  3. Outline the specific rule violation or misconduct
  4. Present the recommended discipline and duration
  5. Provide progress and get parental help when needed
If other student-athletes were involved, do not share names, discipline or discussion content with other parents.


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