Meet: John O’Sullivan
From: Oregon, US
Role(s) : Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project, Author, Soccer Coach
Can you give us a bit of background information on yourself?
John O’Sullivan, 44, USSF A license, college and youth coach
How would you define a parent(s) role within the youth sports environment?
Help your kids find their passion instead of determining it for them. Support them in seeking their goals.
What are the benefits of embracing parental involvement within youth sports?
You must embrace parental involvement, as they are the most influential people in a child’s life. We must embrace and teach them how to help, not assume they know how to expect them to figure it out on their own.
- How have you as a coach/club attempted to increase parental involvement?
(Questionnaires, Parent Education Seminars, Reversing the role of athletes and parents, silent sideline, weekly emails, reading materials)
All of the above, as well as ongoing parent education, connecting them to blogs, social media etc. But it comes down to team/coach/athletes/parents willing to hold each other accountably.
- What challenges have you faced by attempting to increase the level of parental involvement?
Having them overstep their bounds and not draw the line between appropriate involvement and getting to involved in things they shouldn’t i.e. tactics.
- Have you seen a difference in youth athletes when parental involvement is embraced not neglected and/or ignored?
When everyone “buys in” you get a consistent message and development of athletes. Kids enjoy it more, know that they will be safe from conversations after the games and the ride home, and they play better because of it.
What advice would you give coaches that are unsure and/or afraid about increasing parental involvement within youth sports?
If you think you can nullify parental influence you are sorely mistaken. A parent’s influence is never neutral; It’s up to you to make it a positive one.
For those parents unaware of their influential role within youth sports, what advice would you give them?
John would advise parents to read his book:
You can find more about John O’Sullivan on these social media outlets:
Thank you John for taking the time to complete the following interview questions.
The Sporting Influencer