A Youth Soccer Coach’s Feedback On The Impact of Parents on the Sidelines
The Parent Impairment – Parents’ Role in Their Players’ Success
It is hard to imagine too many people who would look into a mirror and admit that they are staring at “that parent” — SoccerToday’s series for Soccer Moms & Soccer Dads explores why parents feel the need and the ability to second guess youth soccer coaches. With the goal of exploring what youth soccer coaches really think about parents — and what needs to change, here is advice on how real player development takes time.
Brandon Quaranta, Director of Coaching for Baltimore Celtic SC, shares his thoughts on the impact of soccer parents on the sidelines:
Diane Scavuzzo: Why do parents feel the need to second guess a youth coach? Why do they think this is ok to do?
Brandon Quaranta: I think part of the reason parents feel the desire and sometimes responsibility to critique coaches is the increasingly easy access to information. And I do think this spills over to other others including the academic realm. I am a lower and middle school teacher as well.
People have incredible access to information and obtain this information in real time, from anywhere. Thus parents can look up how sessions are run and what coaches are doing anywhere in the word. Get a varying degree of opinions on how the game should look and what are the “right ways” for coaches to conduct their programs. Sometimes knowledge of set up, structure, etc is confused for knowledge of the intricacies of the game and the philosophies and concepts that are being taught. Much of that specific knowledge, in my opinion, can only be obtained through countless hours of study and practice within the sport. I think too many parents today mistake one for the other.
Diane Scavuzzo: What can distract parents from this behavior?
Brandon Quaranta: I think honest, straight forward, consistent communication is vital in youth sports and critical to educating parents. Parents need to know what your philosophy is, how you plan to teach it, and how that impacts their kid on a daily basis. If your communication is not clear or not consistently relayed to the parents too much room is left for interpretation and confusion. I have witnessed many great trainers fail as coaches because the communication piece was not there. Sometimes it’s still not enough but I’ve found its the only way to have a parent group that understands where you are and more importantly where you are headed with their child and his/her team.
Diane Scavuzzo: Can this hurt the player?
Brandon Quaranta: I believe it does not hurt every player and it’s very individually specific and contingent on the parent-child dynamic. For some players, they don’t notice or care their parent is in attendance, for some kids it motivates them to perform better, and for some kids it paralyzes them and they can’t perform.
I believe parents need to be objective on what relationship they have with their child. And, they need to realize that the sports relationship may be different from other areas of their life and their child may tell them what they want to hear. Parents need to decipher all the information and find the honest truth. If you fall into the last category, then you need to remove yourself from the equation and allow the child to operate outside of your influence. The parent must be the driver in this process and truly evaluate themselves outside of what their desires might be.
Diane Scavuzzo: Did your parents ever do this? Or did you ever see them on the sidelines when you were a youth player?
Brandon Quaranta: My father was my coach and my mother was my number one supporter.
The coach/player dynamic is a difficult one when it involves a parent and child. I believe it’s difficult at times to find the balance of treating the child like another player when clearly they are more than that. Am I being too tough on them? Am I showing favoritism? Do I communicate with them differently and have different expectations? I have only been on the player side of it and believe my father found a good balance most times. He pushed me hard and expected me to lead and I need that. I had those expectations of myself. My mother was there to pick me up and I needed that as well. There where certainly times where the balance was not perfect but for the most part I believe the dynamic was fair. I think there are many quality parent coaches in the game and do not believe that “professional” coaches are the only answer to proper training.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think coaches think about parents on the sidelines at soccer games or at practice?
Brandon Quaranta: I think most youth coaches would love to operate in a vacuum where parents are not part of the equation and all training and game hours are mutually exclusive between coach and player. I know programs that are structured this way and it works for them.
For Celtic, we choose to allow parents as part of the process and attempt to educate them as best we can. We want them to witness our program first hand and hopefully see value in our system. We believe that most parents will see a committed coaching staff, who are invested in their kids. For those with questions we attempt to answer them, while staying consistent with our programs core values. Families need to constantly assess and reassess the return on investment and determine if it’s the right fit for them. That’s not always the case and for those families they need to find a different situation.