For a coach to be successful in Youth Soccer he must have the ability to work with parents. It is paramount to the success of the team that the parents on the sideline exhibit good behaviour and do not interfere with the coach or the team. The majority of parents involved in youth soccer display good behaviour and support for the team, however, every once in a while you encounter a parent who causes a season of headaches and irritation. If you have experienced this type of parent before, you have realised that the longer you leave the parent on his own devices, the longer the arguing and trouble will persist throughout the season.
A troublesome parent must be pulled aside as early as possible and clearly instructed that he is not to interfere with the team or the coach. If you set the ground rules nice and early, you leave the problematic parent with no option but to stop. Also make him aware that if his behaviour doesn’t improve, that his son will have to find a new club. This usually does the trick as long as you lay the ground rules from the start and enforce strict guidelines to follow.
In order for any youth soccer team to be successful it needs the support of the players, coaches and parents. The most important relationship in youth soccer is the relationship between the coach and the parents. If parents and coaches have a good relationship the benefits are enormous and usually result in a team being successful.
What happens when the coach clashes with a parent or parents? Is this atmosphere beneficial to the players? Does it promote the game and the players development? No it does not! What it creates is a hostile environment and puts doubt in the minds of other parents associated with the team. Why isn’t my son playing his position? Why is he taking off my son? If the problematic parent complains and gets his way, this will inevitably effect someone elses child creating a vicious cycle that will eventually destroy the team.
When a coach is continually questioned about his decision making, the coach loses his confidence and becomes less efficient. Instead of concentrating on the team and the players development, he worries about the parents and how they will react to his decisions. Speaking from experience this is a lose-lose situation for everyone involved. The coach can’t coach, the players are frightened because they continually see their parents argue and the parents are creating a hostile environment which is no longer fun. Would your child enjoy this atmosphere?
The best way to “coach parents” is to always keep them informed of your plans. Hold a meeting at the start of the season and explain to the parents that your objectives are based on the development of the players. Winning soccer matches will not be priority and the players will be put through a rotational system to ensure equal opportunities amongst the young players. Make it also clear that any parent found to be abusive or negative around the children will be instructed to leave immediately. Once you lay down the ground rules, give them the option to leave and go to another club/team if they feel they disagree with you. This way you eliminate all future surprises and leave the parents with a feeling of stability that their children will be given a fair go.
Another great way to “coach parents” is to involve them. Instead of parents being a taxi service for the children, get them involved as long as they follow your instructions. The difference in enthusiasm when they are involved is tenfold.
Last but surely not least, Communicate with them. Talk to the parents about their child’s development, strengths and weaknesses and offer suggestions for their improvement.