How to be a Soccer Parent While Maintaining Dignity and Respect.

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We all love watching our kids play soccer, I’ve watched, filmed and enjoyed my son from when he started playing at the tender age of 18 months (at the local Y program). I’ve never missed a game!
During all this time I’ve noticed here and there some mom’s and dad’s, instead of enjoying time watching the kids play, they’re being the negative soccer parent on the team and distracting both the kids and the other parents. The most common is that soccer parent that is constantly bragging or gloating.  And, how can one best deal with a soccer parent who is disparaging or “always trying to start crap?” 

Well: Stop being a bitch and remember it is a game!

Sorry for the harsh words, but there was clearly no better way to explain it.

IF A PARENT IS EXCESSIVELY COMPLAINING, WANTING TO TAKE CONTROL OF THE TEAM, PUTTING WORDS IN THE MOUTHS OF OTHER PARENTS PERHAPS YOU CAN POINT OUT THE NEGATIVE LIFE LESSON HE OR SHE IS TEACHING AND REMIND THE PARENT OF THE FANTASTIC OPPORTUNITY TO TEACH A GREAT LIFE LESSON IN MODESTY.

  • Warn them that this kind of talk puts on the child who may overhear it, or hear second-hand. “I need to keep up a certain level of impressive play or I’m going to be a disappointment to my overly proud mom/dad.” or “I need to stay away and ignore that teammate because my parent dislikes them”
  • Bitchy parents should focus on the child’s effort and lay out ethics over results for example: Which team they are on, how excited they were to come to the game, how hard they practice, what an amazing group of players, etc.

At least you’re now focusing on things your child can control and be proud of their commitment, devotion for the game, the process of learning all together, etc. Don’t let jealousy push you to say or do things that you’ll end up paying for in the future

Perhaps you can also ask the soccer parent how it feels when other parents start bitching endlessly about other kids — do they enjoy causing a commotion and how do they think it makes the players feel if they overhear it?

From a coaches prospective I think that there are many things you can do if you feel its time to speak-out with the parent.

I would strongly suggest being focused on communicating your message and then letting it go. There is nothing to be gained by staying focused on winning your argument. Parents that keep putting their mouth endlessly into everything are like a virus, you need to keep them away. So give them your thoughts and move on.

Parents are humans, and sometimes humans have bad days. Parent negatively can be a one-time occurrence but if it is an ongoing issue, then these are parents that are the classic “Team-Breakers” that’s when a team manager, the soccer coach or club director need to put their input.

In the United States, I started coaching in Gainesville, FL. back in 1999 and since then I have noticed that parent behavior has improved over the years, but only in youth soccer clubs where there has been an investment in parent education.

Youth soccer clubs cannot simply hope that their soccer mom’s and dad’s are properly supporting the athletes, coaches, and administration and then do nothing to work towards that.

Good soccer parent behavior is the direct result of the club prioritizing parent education instead of ignoring the issues and moving forward. Just as much as soccer parents can regulate each other effectively and most of all efficiently.

As an academy director I truly believe that the cost is too high not to regulate parents behavior and provide them with the basics of how their behavior impacts everyone and not only the athletes.

One thing that a soccer parent needs to understand: Kids learn by example, plain and simple. Children absorb everything around them, and they are exceptionally sponge-like in their capacity to learn and mirror both good and bad behaviors from the time they are very young. For example, the children of smokers are twice as likely to smoke as the kids of nonsmoking parents, and overweight parents are significantly more likely to have overweight children than non-overweight parents. Just like parents that cause problems among the community they live in are likely to have uncoachable kids who will always want to be right, no matter what!

Nearly 75 percent youth soccer players quit by age 13. Most find that the game is no longer fun. Others simply discover other interests. But too many promising young athletes turn away from sports because their parents become insufferable!!

The vast majority of soccer dad’s and mom’s that make the drives home from games miserable for their children do so inadvertently. They are horrendous sports parents, the ones who scream at referees, loudly second-guess coaches or berate their children are even worse.

They are well-intended adults who can’t help but initiate a negative conversation about the game before the sweat has dried on their child’s uniform.

Once you as a parent are assured the team is a safe and friendly environment, release your child to the coach, the club and to the game. Don’t put your nose into everything, be a parent, not a “Drama-Queen” That way all successes are theirs, all failures are theirs.

Rick Zucchi
Executive Director
ZEE Goalkeeper Academy LLC

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