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Dealing With Overly Helpful Soccer Parents »

Although it is massively important that the soccer parents attend their children’s soccer games and soccer training in order to offer support and encouragement, it can become very annoying when they start getting overly helpful. This can become very disruptive and contribute to upsetting the well laid out plans that you have worked hard on refining. When a [tag-tec]soccer parent[/tag-tec] witnesses another parent giving instructions to players it is natural for some of them to start doing the same. This can severely disrupt the children’s concentration while driving them crazy in the process.

I have written a post some time ago on a similar topic which can be viewed Here , however I thought it was a timely reminder that I write another post on the involvement of parents in a game. This has come about as a result of an experience I had last weekend at a game I attended.  At the outset, I would like to add that from my experience, I have never had any trouble with 99% of the parents of children I have coached.

In the incident I witnessed on the weekend, there was an overly vocal parent on the sideline that was yelling and berating not only their child but the opposition players along with their own coach. Unfortunately, this then lead to another parent having their say as well along with the coach and in the meantime the game was still going on. What a mess! Believe it or not, both the parents and the coach were close friends and these parents attended each training session and assisted the coach in running the sessions. The bottom line is that these parents felt that as they were assisting during the week at training that they then had the right to also assist at the game on the weekend and were yelling out instructions that were negative and contradictory to what the coach had planned. End result, confusion for the kids and an unsatisfactory result.

A soccer parent who is throwing out overly negative instructions to their child can destroy his morale, making the whole experience distressing. Children want to hear praise from their parents. Unfortunately, most of the instructions given by your self-appointed assistants will be completely wrong. It’s especially disruptive when they are shouting out the exact opposite to what you have been working hard on with the children in training.

The soccer coach needs to be extremely tactful when trying to deal with this situation to ensure there are no misunderstandings. After all, everyone involved will have the best interests of the children at heart. The best way to resolve this problem tactfully is to organize a preseason meeting, however in the case above  a meeting with everyone concerned immediately.  Make it clear to the parents that the children need to be able to use the soccer games as a learning experience. Explain that criticisms coming from the stands will only hinder their children by making them feel like failures when of course they are not.

The only thing that the children should hear from their parents on game day is general praise such as well-done, great job, unlucky and so on. [tag-tec]Soccer parents[/tag-tec] shouldn’t shout criticisms at the opposition or referees either. If this is occurring you should politely nip it in the bud. Make sure that your assistants at [tag-tec]soccer training[/tag-tec] understand how much you appreciate their help but on game day you need them to take a step back and let you as coach get on with your job. Make sure that they understand that when the children hear instructions coming from every which way, it is only going to confuse them and spoil their game.

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  1. 8 Comment(s)

  2. By Don Lafferty on Jul 24, 2008 | Reply

    It’s funny you should post this today, coach.

    I too got an earful of a rude parent at a softball tournament recently which got me to thinking about the best ways to handle the situation.

    Since ever situation is as unique as the people involved, coaches have to set the expectations early and stick to their guns immediately.

    Don Lafferty

  3. By Maureen on Aug 15, 2008 | Reply

    My 8 year old son just started soccer in the fall of 2007. He enjoys playing very much and while his skills are behind many of the other players he does get it there.

    The last two teams he was on did not win however he PLAYED! He joined the indoor winter team and I began to notice that he was not playing as much.

    This last spring, again, he didn’t get as much time on the field. He did score his FIRST goal this season.

    this summer, I am outraged since his playing time is approx. 4 -5 minutes per 25 minute halfs. One game he actually played 3 MINUTES of half a game! I pulled him when th 2nd half started and he was not put in AGAIN. the same key players rarely got pulled.

    Do I have a right to address this issue with the coach?

    Just not sure of protocol.

    Looking forward to your response.

    (BTW, single mom and dad rarely attends games so not sure if that has an impact. I do want to puncutate that my son is an okay player and does get in to take the ball he just needs MORE TIME playing and he’ll improve.

    Thanks.
    MM

  4. By Muz on Aug 20, 2008 | Reply

    Hi Maureen,

    This situation is very common unfortunately. I am sorry to hear that your son is not getting sufficient game time. To only be given 5 minutes a half is not acceptable.

    At his age your son needs to enjoy the game as he is obviously keen to learn new skills and be a part of the team and he probably feels at the moment he is not part of the team.

    You have every right to approach the coach. I would not do it when your son is around or if there are any other parents around. It is best to do either face to face or over the phone.

    It sounds like the coach is taking the games far too serious and competitive for players at such a young age. He needs to be made aware of this. It is about fun and learning and developing – although everyone likes to win, it is secondary at this age. If after discussing the situation with the coach, the situation does not improve, I would then contact someone from the club you are involved with and explain to them what is happening.

    I am sure though that after you have brought it to the coaches attention, things will change. He is probably just getting caught up with the game and forgetting what the overall objective of soccer is at this level and that is to have fun and help the kids learn and develop.

    Keep in touch and let me know how you go and thanks for the comment.

    Regards,
    Muz.

  5. By Maureen on Oct 5, 2008 | Reply

    I really blew it…

    I resigned my son up for fall soccer. He’s 8 years old. I was the person who complained about the little playing time. I never did meet with the coach and my son didn’t want to go to one game and then the last game the season ended so I chalked it up to a learning curve. Team sports are new to me.

    So fall practice began. I received an e-mail advising practice was only on Weds. I immediately let the coach know I could not make Wed. since I have class at the same time. He basically said that was the only time. Usually coaches try and alternate days so that parents can work it out.

    I went to the head of the club and let them know immediately and requested a refund since the coach did not offer any flexible days and had I known, i would not have signed my son up.

    Fortunately for the league, all the teams were full and they could not move my son.

    I thought about it and asked if he could play the games and I would get him to the few practices when my class was canceled.

    The head of the club informed me that would be okay and that Jack would play 50% of the time. He also hinted to me that he had previous issues with this particular coach. He insisted that I have his cell phone number with me when I went to the game.

    We missed 4 games. My son and I arrived at the field today 30 minutes and I was not sure who his coach was so after 15 minutes we found the coach and realized he was his same indoor WINTER coach. When my son & I walked over, he didn’t even acknowledge my son. I sent my son to hang with the team.

    The game started and as I was sitting with a parent I knew from previous seasons she could see I was upset. I explained because the coach is sending the other boys in 2 & 3 times and my son sat at the end. She then told me her husband had an issue with the coach about her son playing for 4 minutes and now her husband clocks the time.

    As I watched my son, I could see he kept wiping his eyes…the coaches completly turned their backs on him.

    Here’s where I BLEW IT…First, this was a new field for us and I did not know that we were not allowed to be by the boys on the sidelines. Up to this season, the boys were always with the parents.

    I went to my son and he asked why he wasn’t being played and I said because your coach is not being very nice and is trying to teach us a lesson. I said he is not being a nice man.

    The coach overheard my comments and came into my face and told me to stop talking in front of the boys and to leave the sidelines immediately.

    I did leave and I said, you know I am not the first parent to have a problem and he said yes you are.

    I sat out the rest of the game and he did play my son.

    The team lost.

    My son and I left the field. Two hours later I received a very intimidating e-mail which slanted what actually occurred on the field and blamed me for the team losing.

    I guess I must resolve to the fact that I cannot allow my son to continue in this sport…

    I in the meantime, have learned a very VAlUABLE lesson.

    I hate learning curves and I admit I should not have made comments however I could not believe a coach of 8 year olds was treating my son like this.

    So I have learned:
    Never to go to the sidelines.

    Never talk about the coach even though he is a bully.

    Children should be allowed to play 50% of the time.

    You have been very helpful. Is there anything else I should know? I really hate learning the hard way.

  6. By Soccer Jerseys on May 19, 2009 | Reply

    This situation is very likely to happen in children’s soccer games.

    I agree with what you said, Parents should concentrate more on giving their children some moral support rather than throwing negative criticisms to other teams.

    This is humiliating to the whole team and to the children.

  7. By Volunteer coach on Feb 16, 2011 | Reply

    Problem is the type of parent that barks from sidelines can’t be stopped and often the rec orgs, or clubs won’t back coaches cause they want the parent money, plain and simple.

    There is no tactful way to get an overbearing fool of a parent to change ways. Only thing you can do if its very bad as a coach, is next season, if its a select or club made by tryouts, is to not select the child next time and allow another club to deal with the problem parent.

    Otherwise that parent will cause issues for you as a coach which will cause issues for your own child. Most league will impose fines on coaches for parent behavior but not back the coach when a parent has to be schooled. Only avenue left is not have them next time or not coach.

    I also have to commment on that old post by maureen -
    You have not learned anything you still blame the coach and team sports. Its you not anyone else. Wow maureen you are the bully not the coach. You are a clear example of the nightmare boorinsh parent. You selfish, me, me, behavior will impact your child ability to be on team sports cause you are not a team player yourself. First of all, either towns, clubs or the rec orgs set practices times and fields not coaches. Playing area are often shared by many sports. Second if the coach played a child that for whatever reason can’t make practices equal to the kids that have put in the time and effort by going to every practice, that would be unfair and bad for the other kids and the other parents. Making the practices is part of the requirement no matter what some fool board memebr told you just to appease you and toss the coach under the bus. The coach, His only mistake may have been not telling you this clear. It was not the coach, its not team sports, its YOU that is the problem.

    I recall a child asking to come out of the game shortly after being put in because she was tired, so we took her out, but could not just put her back in right away, she would have to wait till next subbing round in like 8 min. Can only assume the child was used to having her way and began to pout (not cry pout) on the sideline. The mom saw this, marched over and gave us heck. Later she apologized, but the damage was done and she embarrased her child too.

    Coaches volunteer, put a lot of own money in to this, pay for and spend more time than you see to coach too, like training and other jobs in the club so your kids can do these things. Least you can do is make some sacrifices and be reasonable. Most coaches do a very good job. For the effort, they are forced to put up with the likes of people who cause the type of nonsense you describe. Coaches can not change practice slots because 1 or 2 parents cant do what they need to do so make the available field times allocated. Get a clue people.

  8. By Volunteer Coach on Jun 24, 2011 | Reply

    Coaches – IF YOUR TEAM PARENTS DO NOT GET THE LEVEL OF COMMITMENT FOR TRAVEL SOCCER, YOU ARE DOOMED. Our club is small but high caliber club. It competes against larger clubs very well. It is also one of the lowest cost ones overall in area, yet many of our team parents who are by and large making very good income, at stable jobs, balk at any of the cost of anything and pro training, no matter how relatively low. Some parents think they can not have any of the pro soccer trainers and allow the parent coaches only train the team and compete against other travel teams. What do they think, this is recreation with fancy uniforms? Do they think at A or B flight their kids will have any chances without pro trainers in the mix? Do they get the club expets the teams to keep rising in flights not stagnate or drop to lower year over year? All I will say to parents out there, you can not do travel in most clubs, if you do not have the right mindset and you can’t spend 600 to 1200 a year for training, both in and off season, and for club dues. There will be another 200 for various equipment for the year and also another few hundred for tournaments. Also be ready to be at ALL practice sessions, on time, with all the right gear and water, which will be at least 2 or 3 a week, all of them. Be prepared to be at ALL games, there are only 8 or 10 a season both fall and spring AND be prepared to do summer and winter training with your group at least once a week. Otherwise stick to recreation. But if you child has any ability and you do not try the travel route you are robbing them and yourself of one of the best times of your life for a number of years. But if you need the money for other things or are just cheapskate, then do not waste the other parents time or the poor coaches time either. Also parent coaches out there while you are good and needed you are not better than a pro soccer player trainer to teach certain skills, so get over self. If you do not want to pay for trainers or do the things the coach suggests for your child to advance then do not complain when team loses or your child is not able to keep up and winds up either taking self out of games or looks lost out there. This would be your fault not the coaches. If you ask to be and are asked by the coach to be an assist coach, you need to accept you are not the boss, you are there and need to support your coaches plans, ideas and goals, if you cant, or find your ideas differ, you will wind up not being an assit coach. At worst may not be on team anymore too. So get your mind in line and know your role is to do the things the coach needs as he states to get the job done. If you cant make the sessions all of them you can not be ac. You are not there to coach, the coach is you are there to help the coach not take over ot tell him or her what to do.

  9. By donecoaching on Oct 20, 2011 | Reply

    ALTHOUGH MANY OF MY SOCCER PARENTS SAY THEY DO NOT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT SOCCER AND NEVER PLAYED SOCCER, SOME NEVER PLAYED SPORTS AT ALL – THEY STILL Act like epxerts.

    They TELL ME AS THE COACH who has played soccer AND tell other parents and PLAYERS SPECIFICS OF HOW PLAYERS SHOULD BE POSTIONED, SPECIFIC TRAINING METHODS AND GAME STRATEGY AND SO FORTH. GENERALLY HOW THINGS SHOULD BE DONE, BOTH AT GAMES AND BEHIND MY BACK. Every so often a parent will turn in to a heckler at games.

    So where is this other expert opinion and insight coming from when I hear those parents who are self admitted ignorant of soccer tell me or players certain things I did not tell them as parents?

    Why is any parent yelling commands and coaching instruction and correction out to the players anyway?

    I have even seen the child tell their parents to stop and the kids come to me and complain their dad or mom keeps yelling at them… I tell the parents this and they do not want to hear it. Gets to the point, you wind up cutting them because these few parents are destroying the whole team. So you lose a good kid cause of the parents who refuse to listen and grow up.

    By and large, while some coaches are the problem, mainly its a certain percentage of parents out there that are the cause of all the issues in youth sports.

    Greater parent education needs to be had and they need to learn to support the team and coach and take a big old drink of shut the H Up. :)

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