One of the biggest topics in youth football is controlling the behavior of parents towards their children during training and matches. Parents play a very important part when developing a child’s football journey and its imperative that we help guide them. In certain situations it can be the making or breaking of some young players as the parent can dictate the attitude of the player towards your coaching methods.
It should always be a priority from the beginning, that the coach establishes their expectations of the parents. The parents should understand from their first meeting with the club how they are expected to play a part in their child’s football development. Most parents have good intentions and want their child to succeed, but too often in football they hinder the players development. As coaches we have to do our very best to show parents that doing things another way will help their child in the long run.
Many parents tend to have a ‘win at all costs’ mentality and what we have to make them understand is that your philosophy is to win with a certain ‘style’. In this article I will give you 3 tips that will turn your parents from being a hindrance to one of your biggest assets.
In my earlier article How to Run a Successful Grassroots Football Team, I mentioned how from the beginning you should tell the parents that at this club ‘we do things differently’. To help this, I write a ‘Parent contract’ which states everything that we do and everything we expect the parents to also do. You should make it clear that they play an important part in their child’s development and in order for them to improve they need to agree that they will work with you and not against you.
As mentioned already, you should include what is the philosophy of the football club in the document. The parents need to know what the club is all about, this will further embed your expectations and give your parents a blueprint to follow. You should make every parent sign this document, this will show a form of commitment to the cause and will also give you something to produce if ever they decide to deter from the contract. The contract doesn’t need to be any longer than 1-2 pages long, you want to make sure that the parents actually read the document before they sign.
Just like players and coaches all parents need to be educated about the game, this is even more clear when you are trying to set up a different coaching method which was different from the previous regime. Not everyone finds it easy to accept different coaching methods, especially a football nation like ours which favors a more direct style of play i.e long balls and having a physical presence etc.
In my own experiences I have found that parents tend be more patient when you regularly teach them about your coaching methods, values and philosophy. This can be done in some ways but it is ultimately up to you which avenue you decide to take. Here are some ways I choose to communicate with the parents I have worked with:
- Paper documents – This will include what we have worked in training sessions and what we plan to work on in future sessions. I will also send letters which contain various sessions that the parents can work on with the children at home (football homework).
- Email – Some parents will prefer to be informed via email. In order for this to happen you need to collect their emails, then send informative mail that will further develop their understanding of your approaches.
- Video – These days anyone can watch an informative video on their mobile or tablet. We as coaches can take advantages of this by producing videos which show them what you’re trying to do such as instructional videos (coaching sessions).
Let the parents know that they play an important part in their child’s development. Parents can have a big influence on their children so why don’t we use that to our advantage. Unfortunately at grassroots level, we only get between 1-2 coaching sessions with the players at our clubs. With this in mind it is important that we try to encourage our players to practice as much as possible at home when they can. This is where involving your parents will benefit your players in long run. At the end of sessions show them short practices they can work on with their child, allowing them to continue what you do with them .
It is important that we try to allow our parents to help take their child’s ability to higher levels when we can’t be there. Doing this simple procedure will help further embed your teaching methods whilst further improving the parents understanding of your expectations and coaching philosophy.
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