A Youth Soccer Coach’s Feedback On The Impact of Parents on the Sidelines
Youth Soccer News for Soccer Moms & Soccer Dads – Why do parents feel the need and the ability to second guess youth soccer coaches? Why does our society permit this? Or does it? The Coach – Parent dilemma only thwarts player development. Soccer Moms and Dads only want what is best for their kids but need to realize player development takes time. Player Development v Winning in Youth Soccer is a familiar topic. What can be done?
Abel Martinez, Girls Director of Coaching for Rebels SC, shares his thoughts on the impact of soccer parents on the sidelines:
Diane Scavuzzo: Why do parents feel the need to second guess their child’s coaches?
Related Article: Parents on the Soccer Sideline
Abel Martinez: Youth soccer has become a business, and like any other business the customers – the parents – have a big say in the service/product they are receiving, which in this case, is coaching of their child.
Diane Scavuzzo: How does this hurt your player?
Abel Martinez: Todays, parents want it all. parents want youth soccer coaches to develop their child as a skillful, good decision making, soccer player. They also want their child to play every game. And most importantly, they want the team to win all the time.
They want youth soccer coaches to do the aforementioned all at the same time, at all times of the season – regardless if its a scrimmage or indoor game or state cup game.
The need for parents to second guess a coach doesn’t hurt their player necessarily, but their lack of patience in the process of development does.
The lack of patience from a parent to allow the development process to happen absolutely hurts their child.
For a child or a team to have success developing the system of play that a coach is trying to implement – such as a possession style of play – the team will probably lose in the beginning of this process. The youth players will make mistakes playing out of the back or switching the point of attack. This is natural. It is good for the players to make mistakes.
Diane Scavuzzo: What should parents know?
Abel Martinez: This is where most parents lose patience and begin to second guess the coach and relay that information to their child or to other parents. This can create a domino effect to the rest of the parents. This can have a disastrous consequence to the season, but most importantly, negatively affects the child’s development.
However this can be avoided if coaches are constantly communicating with the parents and letting them know about where they are in the process of developing. As a coach, if you are consistent with the communication process and stick with what you know is right, you will accomplish your goals and the child and team will develop.
Diane Scavuzzo: Did your 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?
Abel Martinez: My parents, fortunately for me, were each working two jobs to support myself and my three brothers. So they hardly made it to my games. My parents would usually make it to my home games, but they weren’t overly involved in my development — they came only to cheer me on.
The youth soccer landscape was different then. Parents dropped you off at practice and came back to pick you up. It was rare for my coach to have a row of parents in their beach chairs observing the entire 2 hour practice. I think there was less interest in soccer as whole back then as well. The sport has grown and interest has picked up significantly.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think coaches think about this?
Abel Martinez: Most coaches I speak with feel that parents are over the top with their expectation. Keeping the communication lines open and constantly reiterating the importance of development and patience through that process, is the best way to handle second guessing.
It is difficult to face the parents when the team is losing, but this is when you have to communicate the most. Unfortunately, most coaches don’t want to do this, and often times avoid the parents as much as possible. Once the second guessing is rampant throughout the team, its too late for a coach to intervene.
Diane Scavuzzo: What can a coach do to prevent parents from ‘bad’ sideline behavior and being destructive?
Parents are always going to question what you do as a coach, and the days of “I’m the coach and if you don’t like it, you can leave” are gone. The reality is families can leave and go to the club down the street.
In the old days, there were only a handful of youth soccer clubs but now there is a club at every corner; and the bar has been raised. Soccer clubs have to do a better job of educating and communicating to a parent on how they are going to develop their child.
So it seems that clubs and coaches should communicate and give parents a sense of understanding and security so that parents feel confident and secure that their child is in the best hands, which will avoid their second guessing nature. With so many club choices, the objective as a parent should be to find the right one that eliminates your need to second guess their actions.