EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Tame problem parents in 6 steps

The law of averages suggests that in every team you’ll have at least a few parents who are likely to disrupt the smooth progress of your team. Follow our six-step plan to taming them.

STEP 1: SET OUT THE RULES

Call a meeting of parents at the beginning of the season and set out your ground rules, explaining why certain kinds of behaviour are not acceptable. Good communication is essential and you have to let all the parents know exactly what is expected of them.

STEP 2: SIGN THEM UP

Turn your ground rules into a formal Parents’ Code Of Conduct, outlining the kind of encouraging behaviour that you would expect from a touchline parent and the kind of disruptive conduct that you would not. Send the parents a copy and ask them to formally sign the document to show they agree to abide by the rules.

STEP 3: HOLD REGULAR MEETINGS

Better-informed parents are much better behaved so hold regular meetings and keep everyone updated. Talking to parents before each season is essential but also talk to them at the end of every session or match as well and reference their child’s contribution.

Ray Winstone FA Respect video

STEP 4: GET THEM INVOLVED

Encourage disruptive parents to attend training and help them to understand the reasons behind your decisions. They’ll hopefully get to understand your philosophy on such things as competitive football and equal playing time. Also try to involve them more in putting the team together. If they feel they are really a part of the set-up, they are less likely to be disruptive and more likely to behave and set an example.

STEP 5: BAN THE SHOUTING

If some parents are still acting like every match is the World Cup Final, put a stop to over-competitive shouting at matches. Then talk to the parents as a group and ask for positive, measured comments to all aspects of play. Let them know that if any of them have a suggestion or notice a problem – during a match or at any other time – they are free to discuss it with you in private.

STEP 6: TALK TO THEM ONE TO ONE

If you feel that a parent is continually undermining the harmony of the team and refuses to take any notice of your rules, you must avoid having a confrontation in front of the players at all costs. As a last resort take the competitive parents to one side and tell them they are destroying the team. They need to either shut up or leave.

DAVE’S TIP: TEACH PARENTS THE RULES

Problems caused by a parent screaming from the touchline can be borne out of their ignorance of the rules. Where possible, try and make sure mums and dads are familiar with the rules and realities of the game.
You could also use others to convey a message. For instance, an experienced referee is an ideal person to speak with parents for a few minutes about a game – and he can remind them that there is a code of conduct while he’s at it.

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