The Basketball Podcast: EP302 with J.P. Nerbun on Sports Parent Solutions

RELEASE DATE : 10/01/2024
In this week’s coaching conversation, leadership coach and consultant J.P. Nerbun joins the Basketball Podcast to share insights on sports parent solutions and culture.
J.P. Nerbun is a bestselling author, leadership coach, and founder of TOC Culture Consulting, a leading global sports-consulting and leadership coaching business. His most recent book The Sports Parent Solution: Proven Strategies for Transforming Parents from Obstacles to Allies is a must read for coaches learning how to manage sports parents. His mission is to support leaders and their teams to achieve their full potential through 1:1 coaching, consulting, and community. Nerbun’s impressive scope spans across sports, education, healthcare, and business, with a proven track record of guiding leaders at esteemed institutions such as Stanford University, Harvard University, University of Texas, the USGA, PWC, and Chick-Fil-A.
In 2019, he published his first book, Calling Up: Discovering Your Journey to Transformational Leadership, which has received critical acclaim. In 2022, he published The Culture System: A Proven Process for Creating an Extraordinary Team Culture, a groundbreaking book offering a framework for developing team culture. In 2023, he launched The Culture System Online Training Platform, which has been praised for being one of the most applicable online coach educations available. His podcast, Coaching Culture, is one of the top sports leadership podcasts globally. Nerbun lives in Ireland with his wife and their three children.
J.P. Nerbun


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Sports Parent Solutions Quotes:

“Parents are an important part of this equation, right? If we want to get the culture right, they can destroy it or they can actually really help and enhance it . . A lot of parents are watching my leadership example, and that can impact them.”

“It’s the same with parents. One of the big things that I think is really important when it comes to communication early in the relationship, is communicating your philosophy, the way you’re going to build the culture.”

“We need to set boundaries around conversations that we’re not going to have, but we need to also communicate conversations that we want to have and when they can reach out to us. And those conversations need to be around the athletes’ well-being.”

“The conversations I tell the parents I want to have are: if you don’t understand why your child’s not playing, you don’t have to agree. But I’m going to communicate to your son and your daughter, and if they communicate that to you and you still don’t understand, I’m open to having one or two conversations throughout the year. If something has happened at home, I want to know about it.  . .  I want to know if they’re coming home and they’re miserable, they’re not enjoying their experience . . bring me in on that. I want to know if I’ve done something that has changed your opinion of me as a person.”

“One thing I like to challenge coaches on is, ‘If you couldn’t say anything to the parents in your program, if your only way you could was by your actions, what would your actions be saying?’ And to really reflect on that, what would those [actions] be saying?”

“I am trying to communicate to the parents, hey, this is what we’re working on. So if you see your daughter out there, try to reinforce this is what we want to be reinforced.”

“When it comes to the older levels, I think before you can go in and start challenging the sports parent around their parenting, you need to build a relationship. So, what we like to do with a lot of our programs at the high school and even the collegiate level is we run a parent practice. So we like to have the parents come and. .  observe part of a practice. We kind of teach them how we practice, why we practice.”

“[A parent’s practice] sets the stage for everyone to be more about the team, which is probably the most frustrating thing for us as coaches when it comes to sports. Parents today show up and they’re only about their child. My challenge to all of us is,  ‘What are we doing for them to better understand and appreciate the other children, the other young men and young women within the program?’”

“When you get parents together ask, ‘What do we need to do as parents to create a great experience for our athletes?’ Just ask them that question this season. We broke them into groups, and everyone has a note card and they write down three standards. They share them, and the coach takes that and compiles them.”

“One thing I’ll just mention, the 24 hours rule is I always tell parents, that’s not for you. That’s for me. After a tough loss, I might be hot. It’s just a one way of making that a rule that’s more about a two way. It’s not blocking parents out.”

“The best way to communicate those needs is to turn to your athletes and say, ‘Athletes, what do you need from us as coaches to be successful this season? And what do you need from your parents to be successful this season?’ Have the athletes sit down, work out that list, hand it to you, and then you can communicate that to the parents.”

“What I recommend . . is that the conflict moment is not the first time that you, the parent and the athlete have sat down . . Early in the season, at least making it an option for a parent/athlete/ coach conference where you’re asking the athlete what their goals are, what their expectations are; asking the parents what their hopes are for the season; and you’re able to share your perspective.”

“You kind of ground expectations. I think every athlete’s parent tends to probably have a little bit too high of expectations going into the season as far as how well their child is going to perform that year, how much playing time they’re going to get, what their role is going to be. Everyone seems to be a little bit more optimistic than they probably should be. And so, if we can ground some of those expectations early on, I think it helps to avoid conflict situations later.”

“I think it is really powerful, early on in the relationship, to ask parents this question of ‘What are your greatest concerns for your son or your daughter in the next year, the next five years of their life?’”

“I’m big on logical consequences with athletes, which is we are never kicking you out of practice. I’m asking you to step off until you’re ready to meet the standard. You’re choosing not to meet the standards.”

“Try to imagine yourself as a condition creator, not an outcome creator. So, what can you do to create the conditions for good things to happen within your team? I always think that question helps me to get more upstream, more focused on the system rather than downstream, focusing on just the latest tool or trick that we heard.”

Sports Parent Solutions Breakdown:

1:00 – Sports Parent Solution
6:00 – Strategies for Coaches
9:00 – Struggle in the Book
12:00 – Conversations with Parents
16:00 – Expressing Gratitude
18:00 – Leading By Example
21:00 – Interaction of Parents in Games
25:00 – Practice Into an Experience
31:30 – Setting Boundaries
35:30 – Creating Safe Environment
38:00 – Mistakes in Culture
41:00 – Behavioral Problems
46:00 – Culture as a System

Sports Parent Solutions Selected Links from the Podcast:

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