Understanding the needs of everyone involved is vital to the smooth running of your club and practices, coach educator BILL STARA tells DAVE CLARKE MORE
Coaching tips to help manage soccer parents
The following essential soccer coaching tips will help you involve your team’s parents effectively and deal diplomatically with any problems that they present.
Parents are, obviously, necessary. Sometimes they can even be useful! You can, for example, get them to transport children, fetch balls during soccer drills and provide financial support.
There will, however, be occasions when you have difficulty with one or more parents. Some may want their child to play more, while others may question your judgement as a soccer coach. You can minimise the number of times you have to deal with an angry or upset parent by following these basic soccer coaching guidelines:
- Have a pre-season meeting before the first drill session to discuss your plans and expectations for the season. Encourage questions from the parents and let them know that you have given a lot of thought as to how you’re going to coach their children.
- Express appreciation for their interest and concern. This will make them more open and at ease with you.
- Always listen to their ideas and feelings. Remember, they are interested and concerned because it is their children that are involved. Encourage parental involvement.
- Know what your objectives are and do what you believe to be of value to the team, not to the parents. No soccer coach can please everyone!
- Know the club and game rules. Be prepared to abide by them and to explain them to parents.
- Handle any confrontation one-on-one and not in a crowd situation. Try not to be defensive. Let the parent talk while you listen. Often a parent will vent their frustrations just by talking. Listen to their viewpoint, then thank them for it.
- Resist unfair pressure. It is your responsibility as the soccer coach to make the final decision. This doesn’t mean you can’t still listen to parents.
- Don’t discuss individual players with other parents. The grapevine will hang you every time. Show the same respect for each player on the team that you want the parents to show towards you.
- Ask parents not to criticize their children in front of anyone else. Don’t let your players be humiliated, even by their own parents.
- Don’t blame the players for their parents’ actions.
- Be consistent! If you change a rule or philosophy during the season, you may be in for trouble. At the very least, inform players and parents of any change as soon as possible.
- Most importantly, be fair! If you treat all your players fairly and equally you will gain their respect and that of their parents as well.
Key soccer coaching tip: Remember that your children (and their parents) are not all the same. They will have a wide variety of backgrounds, beliefs and ideals. This diversity is to be valued.
The challenge for you as a soccer coach is to address these differences in a positive manner so that the season will be enjoyable for everyone involved.
Click here to read more soccer coaching tips on managing the parents of your young players.
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