Have you ever turned up to your child’s football game or training and wondered “what is expected from me as a football parent”?
If we were to look around on the internet right now we would see a ton of articles supporting coaches and players on how they can improve their abilities.
But what about the parents?
Football parents seem to be the scapegoat with most in youth football and sometimes it is warranted.
But what we have to realize is that most football parents are well-intentioned and only want the best for their child.
Many that you see shouting and giving instructions on the sidelines actually believe that this is helping their child perform.
So what is the solution you ask?
Well looking at it from my experiences as a fully qualified football coach for over 16 years, one of the number 1 things that have helped keep me on the right track is having my own football coaching philosophy.
So when I eventually became a parent I decided to develop a football parent philosophy as well!
Now you might be thinking ‘but Kurtis wouldn’t you just work with your son like you do when you coach your players’?
I wish it was that straight forward, I quickly found that being a parent football coach was a whole new challenge in itself!
You Will Always Be My Dad!
The first thing to understand is that your child will more than likely, not see you as the coach or treat you like one when you train with them (if you decide to train with them 1on1).
I have heard this many times “my child won’t listen to me that’s why I stopped training” or “all we ever do is argue on he can and can’t do”.
Looking back on my own experiences one of the first mistakes I made was trying to treat my training time with my son like I do in my 1 to 1 coaching sessions with my paying clients.
As frustrating it can be, you just have to accept this.
But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train with your child, far from it. You just have to take a slightly different approach when training or supporting children if you want to truly have an impact on their development.
So what is this approach?
I call it ‘guide not dictate’!
This is my approach to everything that I do with my son in football now, if I am putting an individual training session I think ‘how can I create an environment where my son can a) express himself like I would want him to in a game and b) allows me to guide him rather then ‘tell him’ how to play the game effectively!
If I am just supporting my son on game day I would look at different ways I could implement this approach in the car journey by starting a conversation about what goals he would like to achieve in the game.
I would normally try to get him to think about what he has been working on in training and ask him to pick 2 target areas that he feels require the most attention.
Creating Your Football Parent Philosophy!
Now how can we educate ourselves to create our very own football parent philosophy?
It’s actually not as hard as you think.
Okay, so what I mean by this is try to think about what you believe good football looks like? This will give you a good understanding of the game when you’re actually watching your child play football.
Truly understanding this will also help when you are trying to find a new team.
This is because you now know what you are looking for, and what you want to see from a coaching session as well.
Another important addition to this philosophy is to have a mindset of ‘taking risks in football is ok’ and try to encourage your child to take risks if they feel it’s necessary to do so in the game.
In football, the safe players are the ones for me that get lost in the game, the ones who try and take risks or try and do things differently are the ones that stand out and get noticed.
Think about the players that you admire? Normally, it’s the ones that love to take on players or have those moments of spontaneity.
When I think of my past and the players I’ve looked up to, all of them, even if they are defenders have this about them.
To develop your knowledge further take time to watch a few YouTube videos on certain coaching techniques and methods or maybe even some videos on certain players, you can even read books on a range of different topics I have some recommendations here below for parents.
When you acquire the knowledge it becomes easier to find the right team for your child.
You will know what to look for, such as, what sort of philosophy does that coach have?
Does their philosophy resemble what you like to see about the game?
Do they encourage their players to be comfortable on the ball?
Do they use lots of Q&A, and are there sessions player centred, where the players are encouraged to take ownership over their development?
My biggest moment of reflection was when I just started out in coaching.
My mentor came to watch me for a session one time, I noticed he was there about halfway through and he watched majority of my session.
At the end of it, he told me that he was disappointed with my session and that he knows I can do better.
It was probably one of the most important moments in my coach education, as helped me reflect on my coaching and made me go back to the drawing board and improve my sessions.
It forced me to go and watch other good coaches and watch good practice.
It also forced me to go out there and research what I felt was good football.
Now I’m not telling you to go and get a mentor or to go and watch a number of different coaches.
But I’m asking you to have a little look at what’s out there as it can help you understand the game more and give you a better idea of what is best for your child.