Planning a Parent Meeting
When acquiring a new team, or approaching a new season coaches should be embracing parental involvement, in order to develop an effective collaboration. That potentially enhances a child’s learning and provides a positive soccer experience. Developing a shared understanding of roles and responsibilities between coaches, players and parents do not happen by accident. It is a multidimensional process (Athletic Triangle) that begins with self-reflection from all parties and ends with a commitment to developing relationships with all involved (Robinson, J. R, 2010).
In-brief, below are components that need/could be considered in-depth before the creation and discussion with a sporting influencer(s)- (Defined as Parents).
A coach and/or club who shares a clear and reflective philosophy with parents has taken an important first step in helping parents understand their behaviour and beliefs. (Matthew J. Robinson. 2010.) To find out more, read the following “Developing a club philosophy”
Below is list of components that could be considered and identified:
- Possession with a purpose soccer (Avoiding Kick and Run approach – Win-at-all-Costs)
- Playing through the thirds (Defense > Mid>Attack) – When possible.
- Focusing on Long term player development.
- Develop soccer players that can manipulate the ball under pressure
- Develop better decision making soccer players
- The process is more important than the outcome
- Understand the importance of TEAM work
- Basic Tactical understanding
- Educate parents in soccer in regards to nutrition, technical, tactically.
- Effective communication between all parties involved in the process.
- Use diverse coaching methods to cater for various learning needs.
- Players can be comfortable playing an array of different positions.
There would appear to be a consensus that if parents were provided with information that would enable them to better understand the implications of their own behaviour and beliefs, they would be more likely to moderate their actions to help create a more positive sporting environment for their children (Gould et al., 2006; Kidman et al., 1999; Stein et al., 1999). It’s imperative that coaches and parents understand all that is happening to surround the child’s and team’s development. I sincerely encourage every coach to embrace two-way communication, as previously mentioned to develop an effective collaboration between all. “Gould (1982), stresses how important it is for the coach to educate parents and maintain open communication.” This is an important component that needs further discussion – will be posted soon.
Expectation of Parents
“The primary role of the parent in youth sports is to provide emotional, financial and provisionary support for their children” (Rowley, 1986).
- Respect Coaches and Officials
- Safety issues and pre-cautions
- Communicate with coaches (Appropriate times)
- Respect the learning environment for players
- Encourage don’t critique
- Observe not instruct
- Emotional Support
- Financial Support
- Respect the game
- Avoid setting unrealistic targets e.g. 7 goals
Winning V Success
Success for young athletes is rarely solely focused on winning, it is usually focused on embracing the game learning and having fun. With too many external influences, success is measured by how many games or competitions/tournaments are won or lost. Coaches, parents and sporting influencers can embrace the competitiveness of the sport, however, it’s shouldn’t be the sole purpose of how we determine success and development. Children can win without performing well or can lose even though the performance has been outstanding. Success can be measured in many diverse ways, i.e. how well athletes are participating, and how well they are achieving both personal and team goals. Winning is where you compare yourself to others, success is self/team measured based upon performance and contribution. Parents need to act with the intention of promoting successful performance experiences for their children in sports rather than focusing on outcomes and results (Roberts & Treasure, 1993).
A challenge for a coach is not to pigeonhole children in ONE position from a young age, the biggest challenge is to explain the benefits of such an approach to parents. A minority will observe their child experiencing a difficult time within an unfamiliar position(s), and will not see success. It’s not simply a case of dropping players into different roles and expecting great returns. Things take time to learn and develop. We have to put aside the score sometimes and recognize that we have to put the player’s needs first. We need to allow players the flexibility to be able to play in different positions and ensure they recognize that it is in their best interests of helping them get better. Additionally, providing this opportunity for all individuals will enhance their perspective of the role & responsibilities of their teammates. As coaches, that is our role, to focus on long term player development.
Expectations of players
It’s very beneficial that every single travel soccer player to understand their expectations from the coach, thus enhancing the player’s attitude, respect and commitment towards the game and those involved. Additionally, if players are aware of such expectations, they are more inclined to abide by such rules and improve future conduct.
- Punctuality to practice and games
- Respect for coaches and officials
- Safety issues and pre-cautions
- Positive learning attitude
- Encouragement to fellow teammates
- Learn and obey the Laws of the Game
No sideline coaching
Parental coaching from the sidelines is unwelcome because it distracts the players from focusing. We must allow all players to dictate their own decision process whilst participating. We now know that when adults scream from the sidelines they’re not just invading the children’s playtime, they’re preventing children from learning the game in a natural manner. Support and encouragement do NOT mean that you coach from the sidelines. In fact, the WORST THING that you can do as a parent/coach is to “coach” from the sidelines.
‘Let the kids play
- “Parents are distracting me”
- “There is too much pressure on him/her from parents”
- “I can’t think when parents shout at me”
Coaches should appreciate parents trying to help the players and guide them through the game. We now know that when parents yell, instruct and guide players on the sidelines they’re not just invading the children’s playtime, they’re preventing children from learning the game in a natural way. Allow the players to enter and dictate their own decision-making process. Encourage praise from the sideline concerning various components of soccer e.g. passing, intercepting, movement and foot-skills etc.
“A good way to determine whether the sideline comments are helpful and supportive is to ask the children what they prefer to hear on the sideline if anything.” – Developing Decision Makers
“Reason for this was footballers cannot learn how to make their own decisions if they are used to receiving instruction from the sideline: best way forward to enhance long term player development” Rene Meulensteen – Ex-Manchester United Assistant Coach
Type of questions/comments to ask post-match
Since I’ve played, observed, coached the first and second questions I always hear and asked, and I’ve been guilty of this previously is “Did you win today?” and “Did you score today”. If we are not emphasizing a winning mentality, these types of questions are irrelevant and contradicting. Below are more developmental questions and comments that parents can ask those who participate in any sport:
- Did you have fun today?
- How did you perform? (Ask for examples?) – Don’t evaluate!!
- How did you perform as a TEAM? (Examples?) – Don’t evaluate!!
- Praise and say how proud of them you were
- I really enjoyed watching you play today
- Did you learn any new moves?
Some components will be discussed further within the next month
The Sporting Influencer