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Key Qualities of a Soccer Parent--We All Need Feedback and Our Parents' Support

By Tim Bradbury, Director of Coaching Education, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association

There are a few established truths in youth soccer. One of the simplest and easiest to understand is the fact that unless coaches/parents and players are all on the same developmental page, it is almost impossible for any player to fulfil their potential or enjoy the process. To say the relationship between most youth coaches and the soccer parents they interact with is stressful would be putting it mildly. I have been reminded in teaching courses to a good number of professional trainers this summer just how difficult the coach/parent relationship can be. Many of these coaches avoid dealing with parents due to issues they've had with a few angry parents in the past. I firmly believe that most of the problems can be solved with more frequent communication and honest explanation of key issues like playing time, playing style, when winning becomes the major issue how we deal with losing and, of course, what is a growth mindset. 

I encourage all coaches to step up and try to have regular and honest parent meetings. At the same time, I ask all the soccer parents to recognize the huge part they must play in their child’s developmental pathway. To help parents see the full picture, I ask that you complete the Key Qualities document below. I think it might be a good idea after completed that you share your scores and comments with your child. Let them give you feedback and see how they think you did.

So how are you doing as a soccer parent? To get a sense of where you stand, please assess yourself on the following questions:

1=In need of development

Describe in less than two sentences why you scored yourself as you did.

1) Do you have an appreciation of the learning process and recognize that skill development is more important than winning? Why?

2) Do you have a good sense of sporting behavior and are likely to applaud skill and talent in both teams? Why?

3) Do you teach your child that the best effort is all that matters and not the result of the game? Why?

4) Do you attempt to search for new knowledge on the sports your child plays? Why?

5) After observing any game or practice, are you able to offer unconditional loving support or likely to start your critical review? Why?

6) Do you demonstrate role model behavior under all circumstances? Why?

7) Do you shout orders and instructions at your child as he/she attempts to play the game? Why?

8) How are you doing on teaching your child to handle the disappointment of defeat and the joy of success in a suitable manner? Why?

9) Do you work to ensure that your child meets the commitments of the team or frequently help create excuses as to why he/she simply cannot make it? Why?

10) Do you promote and value the concept of sport for life before winning? Why?

11) Do you address problems with your child's team (playing time as example) in a calm and open-minded, reasonable manner? Why?

12) Do you respect all players, parents and coaches within the team environment? Why?