One of the most important relationships for youth soccer players is the one between the coach and their parents. I have experience on both sides of this relationship for over 15 years and have a good understanding on why it is a fun yet tricky balance.
As parents, we want what is best for our child. As coaches, we want what is best for our players and teams. For coaches, it can take years before they fully develop the inter personal skills to communicate effectively with parents in a purposeful and useful manner. And even then, it’s never going to be perfect.
A Parent’s Perspective
Like many new parents, about 12 years ago, I didn’t understand the youth soccer landscape. I only knew that my 3 and 6-year-old girls would someday be 15 and 18, and wanted to make sure that they had a positive outlet for all their energy.
I had to learn about the tryout system, the registration process and all the other details that parents must learn. My daughters were lucky to have smart, progressive coaches that kept athletes and their parents engaged.
While I volunteered for some activities, I mostly stood behind the scenes and did what we were asked. It worked for me, because I trusted the coaching and having played soccer myself, I wanted my daughters to have their own experience.
Here’s the thing though, their coaches communicated, stayed after practice and were open about the team’s objectives. I understand that everyone doesn’t receive that same experience. For those struggling with their coaches, I suggest having a conversation about team goals, boundaries and expectations. Volunteer to have open dialog and check-in occasionally to see how your player is doing. While it is your player’s experience, it’s your job to help them find their best environment for long-term development.
A Coach’s Perspective
From a coach’s perspective, it really can take years to develop the inter-personal skills needed to address players, opponents, parents, or club officials in a constructive manner. Some coaches are excellent on the field, while others excel in the administrative, office side of soccer.
The rarity is finding one that is great at both. A coach who is experienced and has sharper communication skills will show initiative, be open about team/club development, hold regular team meetings and embrace the parents.
Additionally, the coach will be able to use the gifts that each parent brings to the table and use it to grow the team. Like with everything else, there are boundaries and exceptions.
But if the lines of communication are open, coaches and parents should be able to work in the best interest of each player and team.
Tips for having a healthy relationship with your players coach
1. Get to know them early on. Instead of just relying on Google or word of mouth, talk with your coach. There may be things outside of soccer that you may have in common.
2. Have regular, informal meetings. But don’t expect the coach to be chatty after losing 5-nil. Respect the 24/48-hour rule, but there’s nothing wrong with regularly checking in after a practice or sending an email or text to set up a good time to chat.
3. Write down your questions, regardless of how trivial they may seem. Whether the question is about the team’s finances or just related to your player, don’t let issues linger.
4. Don’t gossip on the sidelines. If there’s anything that seems off or isn’t in line with what you’re expecting as a parent, address it. The coach may not even know the issue exists. If the coach fails to address team issues, contact the Director of Coaching or another member of the leadership staff.
5. Volunteer, but remember you’re doing it for the team. If you want to get involved, do it for the right reasons. You are representing your club and should act with the team’s best interest in mind.
6. The days of the coach who does it all are long gone. Help the volunteers. The team manager, treasurer, and assistant coach all have lives and family too. If you can help them out in anyway, do so. Whether it’s coordinating an event, or by quickly responding to emails, I’m sure it’s all greatly appreciated.
The staff at Quik Touch prides itself on being modern, staying educated and providing each player with his or her own path to success. We do this while maintaining relationships with our parents and addressing their needs. We are club neutral and are able to answer all your soccer related questions.