This season will be my fourth coaching my son’s soccer team. Coaching him has been one of the highlights of parenting for me. But with coaching comes a lot of stress, anxiety, and weariness – mostly because of other parents. Luckily, I’m more comfortable than I’ve ever been because the parents trust me and I know them. Being a coach is a difficult job. Parents entrust us with their most precious gift in the entire world. Every game and practice I remind myself of that. But while I do my best to help children develop, the parent-coach relationship is a two-way street.
Here’s some things players’ parents should remember to help coaches and their children do their best:
Coaches are only human
I try and remind my team of this constantly. I am only human and I will make mistakes in judgment, planning, and organization. Many times I’ll get it right, but mistakes happen. Also, most of us are volunteers and have packed coaching into an already busy day. Go easy on us.
The coach sees the whole picture
Parents often focus mainly (or solely) on their child, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. But the coach is looking at the whole team – who is in and out of position, who’s tired, who’s hurt, who’s in a mismatch, who’s doing great, who needs extra encouragement – and trying to balance playing time and many other things. We see your children and every other child on the field.
Talk to your coach
I encourage parents to talk to me because if they don’t, their kids will. Kids always tell me during practice what their parents say. Parents are part of the team and talking to your kids without talking to me first can create disunity and dysfunction on the team.
Temper your praise
I’ve heard a kid say, “My dad says I am the best player on the team” or “my parents say I’m the strongest person on the team.” Then other kids hear this and have no problem explaining to to this player why they are not the best – usually in a not-so nice way. Encouraging your children is essential to sports, but don’t put them on the pedestal if you want them to be part of the team. These comments make your kid seem cocky and no-one wants to hear someone boasting about themselves.
Go easy on the coach’s kid
The coach’s kid is one of the most scrutinized players on the field. I get it that. His playing time and position is monitored by many parents and I used to be overly-sensitive to that. I ended up being harder on him than I was on any other kid, even to the detriment of the team. Then, one day, a parent played pro-soccer to me, “Stop pulling him out so much. The team needs him.” Another thing to keep in mind? The coach’s kid is usually every practice and every game, often first to arrive and the last to leave. He or she has usually earned that playing time.
Let the kids have fun
Winning is great and adds to the fun, but it isn’t the most important thing. If children aren’t having fun, they won’t learn the great lessons sports instills and they’ll resent being forced to practice and play.
Parents should have fun, too
Over the years, I’ve seen parents almost to come blows with other parents. I’ve heard parents swearing or yelling at their kids, other kids, refs, and coaches. If you are not having fun at the games, then you’re only making it harder on your children. Have fun and enjoy the moment. Don’t let your frustration ruin their time.