Can you give us a bit of background information on yourself?
My name is Kristoffer Lie and I’m from Norway. I have a BSc in Sports Coaching and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education. I’ve worked as a PE Teacher for 3 years, and a football coach for 5 years for the Norwegian premiership side Lillestrøm SK and the Norwegian FA working closely with U14 – U16. I did my UEFA B Licence in Norway in 2013.
How would you define a parent(s) role within the youth sports environment?
It depends on the context and level of the club. In general, I would say the role of the parents is to support the activity, the players in the activity and help build a good environment. In some contexts, the parents have to engage players in activities such as football, because the club doesn’t have coaches etc. In this context, the parents have huge responsibilities. In other contexts, the clubs have more coaches and staff than schools have teachers. In this context, the parents don’t have any specific responsibilities for the activities, but they are responsible for their behavior during training/matches and how they approach their children who are engaging in the activity. Small details as conversations about training/matches and how you ask questions after success or failure, will shape a young player’s development. The two roles described here have totally different demands, but in both of them, the parents affect the player(s).
What are the benefits of embracing parental involvement within youth sports?
From my context back home, the benefits can be many. First of all, helping to manage the team’s training camp, international tournaments, training matches, economy, voluntary work and so on. Others can be to help supporting and developing the players.
How have you as a coach/club attempted to increase parental involvement?
When you meet the parents for a pre-season presentation, in-season meeting and are actively building the inter-personal relationship, you are also developing the players by talking about the plan/curriculum, their ILO’s and sometimes their general well-being in life. First of all, I feel that this initiative makes sure that we’re all on the same page, the parents know what’s going on. In my opinion, this communication builds trust and help coaches and parents to be synchronized, when communicating with the players. After all, the parents spend more time with the players than the coaches.
I have engaged the parents to organise a get-together with food and competitions (players vs. parents) during training camps and international tournaments, which have been very successful.
What challenges have you faced by attempting to increase the level of parental involvement?
Challenges can be biased coaching, talking behind your back about favourites, not spending equal time with everyone and some parents are engaging more in helping than others (does this affect their son, or their son vs other son’s?). I feel that it is very important to be aware of this and be open to talk with parents and players when they feel frustrated or perceive that something is unfair. Communication can help to solve many problems, as long as you are aware and open-minded.
Have you seen a difference in players when parental involvement is embraced not neglected and/or ignored?
I feel that this depends on the context of the player. Some parents are naturally supporting or aware of their behaviors towards young players, and some are engaging too much so it can be felt as a threat for the player. For some players, it can be beneficial that their parents are not watching the games or are engaging as much as they want because the player is stressed. Sometimes it’s hard to change as you can’t control whether a father is watching a game or what he is talking about at home. Other times, talking about this can help change what the player perceive and the pressure parents can put on players if they have too high expectations etc. As for us coaches, the parents and we, are not aware of everything around us. A reality check or a conversation can help us achieve the goal that we are both stretching for.
What advice would you give coaches that are unsure about increasing parental involvement within youth sports?
Be confident and prepared when meeting the parents, and make sure that you give information as clear and precise as possible. When they know what to expect, it’s easier to adapt and, in case, have a chat if something unexpected comes up. If you know what you want as a coach, and some parents are willing adapt to the club’s principles of behaviour for parents (supporting, good behaviour, respect and following the code of conduct of the club in general) I think it can help both the coach and the players. I want to emphasise that the coach should have 100% responsibility of the training, games, player selection, and so on. If possible I think the parents should help “around” the team socially and managing, as I mentioned earlier.
For those parents unaware of their influential role, what advice would you give parents?
Children don’t do what you say, they do as you do –behave. Also, parents should support and ask questions to help stimulate the development of their children. Don’t ask if they won, but if he enjoyed it etc. Reading some articles about parenting in sport or growth mindset is recommended if your club doesn’t have any information about this topic.
Thank you, Kristoffer for taking the time to complete the following interview questions
You can find more about Kristoffer on these social media outlets:
Facebook: Kristoffer Lie
Twitter: Kristoffer Lie
LinkedIn: Kristoffer Lie
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