No matter if it’s a big or small group, if it’s classic or indoor soccer, if they are just starting or they have some experience, managing a youth soccer team is quite difficult. It’s definitely not a task that anyone can do without breaking a sweat. There is an enormous variety of things to pay attention to and, in my opinion, it’s a job that you have to be passionate about to perform properly and effectively.
Among those important factors involved is dealing with parents. You have to understand that you are dealing with boys and girls, and that parents sometimes find it difficult to let go and let them learn the basics of social interaction. That’s just natural, it’s that protective instinct that sometimes make them do irrational things.
You may find parents who leave their kids and come back when they’re done, or a father that emphatically demands his boy to play more minutes, or a mother who is convinced you know nothing about soccer and criticizes your decisions every time. These and many more uncomfortable situations are very common to be seen at youth soccer competitions.
This is why I find it important to be prepared beforehand, so that these type of episodes don’t make a negative impact on the kids or yourself. I’ve recently come across an article from this site that goes over this kind of problems, and that could end up being really helpful for any coach in his/her first years of training.
Among the many tips, we can find this one:
Always listen to their ideas and feelings. Remember, they are interested and concerned because it is their children that are involved. Encourage parental involvement.
This is a great one. If parents feel involved and participant, then their behavior towards you will be much different. If you get them to feel as part of the team, then teamwork mode is enables and you can trust on having them on your side. Problematic parents usually make trouble because they feel no one agrees with them or that their point of view is the only valid. Talk, explain and listen to their opinions.
The article also discusses having meeting prior to and during the season, so you can lay down the principles which you are determined to work by and what you expect from them at every moment, besides making necessary corrections on the way and allowing them to participate in discussing important decisions.
It goes on with other very useful tips, worth the read. But I want to bring attention to one last item:
Ask parents not to criticize their children in front of anyone else. Don’t let your players be humiliated, even by their own parents.
Often, a youth soccer game is surrounded by such a tense energy that kids cannot do what they have to, play and enjoy a sport. There will always be parents shouting on the sidelines and even insulting the referees and authorities. But the worst case is when the kids are being told of so hard that they can never really concentrate.
Talk to those parents. Set limits. We have to always remember that they are very young people, growing up and learning about life as they go. Traumatic experiences have to be cut off from the root. At least that’s what I firmly believe.
Well, I hope this article has helped new coaches, and that it can make us all realize where it’s important to put the focus. Kids are kids, and they should be respected.