Redeeming Soccer Mom, the Parent-Coach Conversation

Part 3 in the 3 Blog Series: “Redeeming Soccer Mom”

The Parent-Coach Conversation

A coach once told our team parents: “As a parent, it’s your job to see the very best in your child. It’s my job to see them as they are and to help them be better.”  He was right. None of us is objective about our own child. But a good coach can be. I interviewed a number of experienced coaches, both volunteer and professional, boys’ and girls’, from several sports. I asked them why they kept coaching. Professional soccer coach Mike Calabretta said it well. “A coach is the only person who can be your toughest critic and your biggest fan simultaneously.”  Coaches can play a key role in kids’ development. That is a great gift.  (read complete article)

Unfortunately, some of the parent to coach conversations do sound something like the Youtube video posted on Where Did Soccer Mom Go Wrong? The caption for this video on the Chantilly Youth association soccer page reads:

This little skit is so real to many of our youth coaches it’s scary!  Please watch the entire clip and then make a commitment to NOT be that parent this season!  All CYA Youth Soccer Coaches say THANK YOU!

Having coached youth soccer for many years, I will admit that this hapless “soccer Mom” sounds like many I have heard. But as a woman who coaches and parents soccer players, I found myself offended by the stereotyping and disappointed in the approach. If we want to help the parents who are “offering too much help” from the sidelines, painting them in non-complementary ways is not the way to go about it.  A parent will not look at that clip, recognize herself and say, “My goodness, how offensive I sound. I better sit down and shut up and leave it to the professionals.”

As coaches, we need to recognize the investment parents have in their children and the depth of emotion this taps. They want to be involved, so we need to invite them:

  • To learn the game.
  • To act as assistant coaches.
  • To participate in scrimmages so they see just how hard it is to play the game well.

And we need to insist they let the game belong to the children.

As parents, we need to believe the coach is doing his best and give full credit, especially if he is volunteering his time. To parent responsibly we need:

  • To learn the game and how it is played.
  • To offer the coach our support and our time.
  • To inquire about his approach and coaching philosophy rather than making demands.

As parents and coaches we are on the same team. We both want the best for the kids but we look at it from slightly different points of view. This is good. It’s what gives us a 3 dimensional perspective. It takes it from the drawing board to the field – where the game is meant to be played. By the kids.

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