Parents are a crucial part of youth soccer teams. They can be a major positive factor in every player’s development. It is very important to view parents as a part of your team that you will need supporting you and the team if you are going to maximize player development. Encourage parents to ask questions so they are not left drawing their own conclusions when they have questions. Most issues can be avoided by proactively informing parents. Educating the parents as you go will make a bid impact on their overall experience and will get their buy-in to what you are doing with the team.
Team Formation Meeting (Preseason)
- Introduce yourself and start getting to know the parents.
- Objectives and team policies can be addressed. Some topics that you may want to address are:
- Choosing a team manager, someone to help with all of the details. This is timesaving and will allow you to focus on coaching rather than the administrative side of the league.
- Complete all paperwork required by the club along with making their initial club payment for the upcoming season.
- Training and game schedules. How you feel about starting and ending on time, what your attendance expectations are, what you think is a good excuse to miss training.
- What each player should bring to training: inflated ball, filled water bottle, soccer attire, shin guards cleats or sneakers.
- Most importantly, your philosophy about coaching players. Let them know that everyone plays; that the game does not look like the older player’s games; that you are there to ensure that their player is safe and has a good time, as well as learn about soccer. Stating these objectives clearly sets the stage for a successful season.
- What your expectations for them is during game time. This is not only for the players but the parents as well.
- Lastly, take the opportunity to see if anyone has questions for you.
Difficulty with one or more parents (In Season)
Some may want their child to play more while others may question your judgment as a coach. You can minimize the number of times you have to deal with an angry or upset parent by following these guidelines:
- Have a pre-season meeting before the first practice to discuss your plans and expectations for the season. Encourage questions from the parents and let them know about your style within the structure of the clubs methodology.
- Express appreciation for their interest, concern and time. This will make them more open and at ease with you.
- Always listen to their ideas and feelings. Remember, they are interested and concerned because it is their children that are involved. Encourage parental involvement.
- Know what your objectives are and do what you believe to be of value to the team. No coach can please everyone!
- Know the club’s policies. Be prepared to follow and explain them to parents.
- Handle any confrontation one-on-one and not in a crowd situation. Try not to be defensive. Let the parent talk while you listen. Often a parent will vent their frustrations just by talking.
- Don’t discuss individual players with other parents. The grapevine will hang you every time. Show the same respect for each player on the team that you want the parents to show toward you.
- Be consistent! If you change a rule or philosophy during the season, you may be in for trouble. At the very least, inform players and parents of any change as soon as possible.
- Most importantly, be fair and respectful! If you treat all your players fairly and equally you will gain their trust as well as their parents respect.