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  • Writer's pictureJustin McLennan

Managing your Expectations

This topic was actually brought up by a parent (thank you!) and was one that I was very eager to write about; how to manage our expectations.

We all have expectations for ourselves and for those around us. Sometimes our expectations are met, sometimes they are exceeded, and other times they fall short. It’s important we understand how to manage our expectations in order to ensure they are met or even better, exceeded. Without preparation and setting ourselves up for success, we can be left with improbable or unrealistic expectations that will lead to disappointment. The question then is…“how do we manage the expectations we have for ourselves, our children, our coaches and everyone else?”

It all starts with open communication, whether that’s with yourself internally, your child, or a peer. Without open communication, you are flying blind and just hoping for the best. And while that makes sense intuitively, open communication can be very difficult, especially if you are fighting that little voice in your head.

“If you tell your child the truth, it will break their heart and they will hate you forever.” “If you approach the coach, he’s going to think you’re the crazy parent.” “Of course they are thinking the same thing as you, if they weren’t they would have to be out of their mind.”

In order to have open communication, you need to have discussions regarding what is expected, how it might be accomplished and how success will be measured. Don’t let the little voice in your head stop you from asking and declaring what you need from others.

Once you open the lines of communication, it will provide room for questions. Questions help avoid assumptions and lead to both parties having the same understanding of the situation. Open communication requires that you ask for what you need while also being open to feedback. An honest, open conversation that allows room for all questions will create an atmosphere of understanding and finding ways for everyone’s expectations to be met.

All of these constructs may instinctively make sense: fighting that internal voice, opening up the line of communication, being open to feedback, providing room for questions and coming to an agreement. It all seems reasonable and manageable, but please also know that these concepts are also always a work in progress. I’ve noticed through my coaching experiences, that kids are not predictable from day to day. We need to understand that kids act their age. Sometimes what we mistake as their poor behavior, is really just a reaction to their mood or being fatigued. Moreover, being in the business world, speaking up to another adult used to be extremely intimidating for me, especially if I felt they were more of the expert than myself. However, I’ve learned the importance and the practice of embracing this fear and using it as fuel to build my courage. Most recently, I have been fighting my own internal little voice when it comes to the high expectations I set for my training sessions and what I provide to the kids. Fighting an ankle injury, my mobility is very limited. Knowing my mobility is limited; I started to believe the little voice that it would be better to cancel sessions until I was recovered due to not being able to meet my own expectations. When in reality, my expectations for what makes me the coach I am, were too extensive and false. Even with limited mobility, I can offer a top-notch session where everyone benefits.

To finish the blog, I’d like to offer some tips to parents on how to deal with expectations when it comes to children, coaches, and our own.


  • Don’t be afraid to disappoint your child when the time is right. Take advantage of these teachable moments disappointment offers.

  • Don’t focus on what they are asking for, but why they are asking for it.

  • Encourage children to prioritize.

  • Reach for alternatives to their requests.


  • Have an open conversation with the coach and ask questions to understand what their expectations of their players/team are.

  • Don’t be afraid to push back if you disagree.

  • Evaluate your own expectations of the coach and your child to make sure they are realistic. Understand if the coach or your child has the experience/skills/knowledge to meet your expectations.


  • Listen for the little voice, acknowledge it, and analyze what it’s telling you. Many times, like in my own experience, it’s not a true story.

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself if expectations aren’t met. Find the positive that generated through the experience/situation.

  • Don’t let expectations control your feelings, mood, or actions. It’s very easy to become attached to the high when expectations are met and the low when they aren’t.

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