A healthy and open relationship between players, coaches, and parents is critical for the success of any youth soccer team!
The focus of youth soccer is not only to watch children learn and grow in both the sport and life, but also for our kids to have fun and enjoy themselves. Coaches and organizations strive to improve the skills children will need on the soccer field as well as important skills they can use in the real world. Parents are just as important as coaches in this process. In youth soccer, we commonly see parents and spectators getting upset during games and practices if they feel like their child is being mistreated or treated unfairly. Just as it is important that coaches make sure everyone is being treated equally, it is also important that parents have a clear grasp on how they are expected to act during games and practices. In order to avoid confrontation that could lead to irrational behavior from the coaches/parents or removal of the child from the program, coaches should ensure parents are familiar with the rules and expectations.
These five ways of managing youth parent expectations will help make it easier to keep parents aware and reduce the amount of confrontations due to a miscommunication we experience in youth soccer everyday.
HOLD A PARENT MEETING
Before starting the season gather all the parents together and discuss the conduct during practices and games. Answer any questions parents may have regarding the expectations. This will make everything more clear for the parents and allow the coaches to offer an explanation on any confusing rules or regulations.
MAKE PARENTS SIGN A CONTRACT
Have all the rules laid out in a booklet and make sure the parents read, understand, and sign off that they will abide by the regulations. If parents were to break the contract, they will already be aware of the consequences.
TALK TO PLAYERS FIRST
Before discussing issues with parents, coaches should let them know that they will not discuss a problem about their child before discussing it with that player. This will allow the coach to get a feel for whether the problem is a serious concern or just a parent being overprotective and/or jealous.
It is important that coaches make sure they are being fair and consistent with the rules and regulations laid out. Treat all parents and players the same way and there should be no trouble explaining and enforcing the expectations.
Coaches need to make sure they are giving the parents a chance to offer their opinions and feelings, AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME. Set aside times for meetings and exchanging emails/phone numbers so parents can feel involved in their child’s growth and practice. Allowing them to have a voice will make it easier to deal with parents and may benefit the coach and organization.