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 right to second guess youth soccer coaches. With the goal of exploring what youth soccer coaches really think about parents and what needs to change — with practical and real advice for parents, here our interview with award winning coach Felicia Kappes.
Felicia Kappes is an accomplished coach as well as collegiate soccer player. Kappes has been coaching the DMCV Sharks Back-To-Back 2013 and 2014 US Youth Soccer National Champions GU18 Elite team for six years. Kappes was honored as 2013 Cal South Competitive Coach of the Year and currently is the Director of the College and Elite programs for the DMCV Sharks Soccer Club.
Educating parents through clear, consistent communication with integrity from the coach can make all the difference in resolving the parent – coach dilemma.
SoccerToday’s ongoing series on Soccer Parents on the Sideline, here is an interview with Felicia Kappes.
Diane Scavuzzo: What is the biggest problem with parents in youth soccer?
Felicia Kappes: Time is one of the key issues – parents realizing that it takes time to help players develop and often parents want immediate results which they usually define by winning. The irony with that kind of shortsighted vision is that true development and education often occurs when we make mistakes and perhaps lose. My team learned that several years ago and it paid off for us in the long run.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why do parents feel the need to second guess youth soccer coaches and try to coach players from the sidelines?
I know I am – I have four kids.
Parents want to make sure they place their kids in the best environment to learn, develop and excel. This attitude spills over into our youth sport. The problem with the over zealous parent is that they often feel they may know what motivates their child best or feel they are supporting the coaches goals, but need to reinforce it during a game so their player actually performs to the coaches expectations.
Youth soccer coaches also have the problem that ‘we’ are providing a service and the parents are paying a lot of money to competitive youth soccer clubs. Parents want to get what they are paying for, so it is natural that they want to make sure they are getting a fair return. Parents know they have options.
I strongly believe it is our job, as a youth soccer coach; to clearly communicate with parents before the season begins. Parents appreciate defined goals, expectations on sidelines, travel procedures for both players and parents and team and player developmental goals. Coaches need to address “real player development and what that means.” Parents need to know what coaches will be offering their child when they join the team.
I believe parents fundamentally want to trust a coach and let them do their job. In return, coaches need to communicate to the parents what they expect and how they will handle a situation that is not appropriate with the team’s goal and coach’s philosophy. I always remind parents everything I try and do is in the best interest of the team and my players. If everyone buys into this philosophy, great things can happen and real player and team development can occur.
Diane Scavuzzo: What should parents think about – to help resolve these issues?
Felicia Kappes: Parents want immediate results for their child and don’t display patience for the development to occur. Parents need to think about how long real player development takes.
Parents also need to remember soccer is a team sport; one big problem for parents is that they often only care about their own child and not the team. The other problem is that they often get caught up with what I call sideline politics and listening to other parents who often don’t know what they are talking about. Again, I often remind my parents to communicate directly with me only. Being approachable at the right time is key. I do have guidelines like a 48-hour cooling off policy with no communication, but other than that my parents know I am here to discuss their children and am open to hearing their concerns.
I also like to hear feedback … I’ve used these constructive conversations with parents when I coach players. The parents often know their child best and what makes them tick, so I want feedback as long as the parents realize final coaching decisions will be mine and I will not be influenced for personal gain.
Finally, I believe trust and consistency is key for coaches. My biggest problems with young coaches are that they are often intimidated by what I call the “power parent”. The parent of the stud player who feels they can influence a coach and team. If other parents see this or believe the coach is not consistent on and off the field, then problems will develop and eventually kill both team dynamics and player development.
These types of teams often have horrible sideline etiquette with parents yelling and coaching throughout a game.
Diane Scavuzzo: Did you parents ever do this? Or did you ever see then on the sidelines when you were a youth player? How did it make you feel?
Felicia Kappes: Absolutely. When I first took over the team I currently have, the sideline was chaotic. Half the parents were happy I was coming in and the other half were upset that the former coach had left. I was constantly putting out fires and rumors but one thing I clearly stated and supported with my actions is that I was not going to ever compromise team goals and player development for any one player.
I had several team meetings letting everyone know that I wanted all he players to stay but only if they were going to buy into what I wanted to do long term for this team. I also explained it was going to be a process. I lost some great players in the beginning because they wanted immediate results, but in the end, I believed in what I was doing and I had to educate the parents that stayed.
It was not easy at times, especially given other clubs would start rumors or call my parents directly with inaccurate information. However, given my open door communication, my parents would often call me about their concerns, or information other coaches were throwing at them and I simply would address it all accurately.
FUN FACTS: As a player, Kappes was a four year letter winner playing from 1986-89 and reaching the Division III Final Four three of her four seasons, winning a National Championship in 1989. After graduation, she spent two seasons as an assistant coach at University of California San Diego (UCSD) under head coach Brian McManus.
In 1992, she was awarded a Master of Science in Sports Management from the University of Massachusetts. While assisting head coach Jim Rudy, UMASS reached the quarter-finals of the NCAA Division I soccer tournament. Kappes was also the Associate Head Coach at San Diego State University (SDSU) from 1994-1999
Kappes currently holds a USSF “B” coaching license. She also holds a National Soccer Coaches Association of America Diploma, was an Olympic Development Program Regional assessor, the West Regional Chairperson for the All-American Division I Committee for the NSCAA and recently became certified as an Advanced Sports Technology Facilitator with an emphasis on Mental Toughness.