youth sports lacrosse parents arguing

Lax Lingo: The “24-Hour” Rule

Some soccer coach friends recently shared this great idea with us. We can all use it to communicate effectively with officials, players, and especially parents, to keep our teams running smoothly this season!


youth sports lacrosse parents sideline

Most of us became coaches to coach our players in the sport we love. It's supposed to be fun and rewarding. But one thing we all know is that, sooner or later, we will have to deal with parents unhappy about their son or daughter's playing time, or something else. This is where the 24-Hour Rule comes in handy:

The 24-Hour Rule states that:

"Parents/guardians are not allowed to confront a coach, team or league official to discuss any “negative” game or practice situation with the coaching and management staff until at least 24 hours has passed from the completion of the game or practice."

The 24-Hour rule gives everyone a chance to calm down and approach any issue again, like normal people. We all know sports parents are CRAZY. Sometimes things get heated after practices and games.  Once some people start talking, well they just don't stop. And two people talking like that quickly becomes a full-blown argument between adults in front of children about a game. That's not what youth sports is about.

As officials, we use the 24-Hour Rule with coaches all the time. Well, at least we "try" to use it all the time. If a Coach really thinks we did a bad job or missed some big calls, or we don't know the rules, the LAST thing we want to do is have it out right there in the parking lot after the game. We simply tell the coach, "Hey coach, 24-Hour Rule. We can talk about this tomorrow."


The 24-Hour Rule is basically the same as "sleeping on it" or "walking away from a fight". Think about it again in the morning. Then when both parties are (hopefully) calm, usually an email will be a sent. The mode of communication here is just as important as the content. A carefully worded email will certainly be received much differently than a face-to-face shouting match in the heat of the moment. Nothing good is going to come out of it.

Work towards cooperation and solutions! This is not a time for airing grievances. The 24-Hour Rule is not meant to delay the inevitable fight. Sometimes people feel better just being able to voice their concerns, or ask questions such as "why is [insert child's name here] not getting very much playing time?" For those kinds of questions, there is usually a pretty straightforward answer, but not always.


youth lacrosse

Business leaders use the 24-Hour Rule too. This is one way you can "bring order to chaos". It gives all parties involved time to organize and analyze the relevant information. The time spent calming down and thinking about the situation prevents irrational, emotional repsonses and allows time for reflection. Perhaps that parent will talk to their child and realize that their son or daughter isn't at all upset about the same thing the parent is. Don't be surprised if you don't hear from that parent at all after waiting the required amount of time.

Use the 24-Hour Rule to keep the focus on your team's culture, behaviors, attitudes and habits. Don't waste time fighting and worrying about the minefield that is Youth Sports Parents. Get back to doing the job you love for all the reasons you love it!