Parents role in developing players

Girls on the subs benchPlaying soccer can be a big influence the development of children, both as players and in their life. But there are many other influences and factors vying for a child's attention. Children need not only good, imaginative and enthusiastic coaching, but real support and encouragement from people around them is vital. Without a doubt, the support and encouragement of parents is very important in this respect.

It is difficult for children to participate in soccer without a degree of financial support and very difficult without the emotional support of their parents and family. Parents can prove to be a very positive influence both for their children and for the club. Equally they can also be a negative and disruptive influence. As coaches it is important that we involve the parents in all aspects of their children playing soccer, but find ways of ensuring their influence and support is controlled, positive and enthusiastic rather than over bearing, negative and destructive.

Positive parental influences

  • Understanding what their child wants from soccer, why they play and actively and enthusiastically support them for these reasons
  • Praise their child for effort, improvement, enthusiasm and enjoyment rather than the level of performance or winning
  • Encourage fair play, respect for team mates, the opposition, officials and the coach
  • Attend matches and encourage their children along with team mates and the opposition
  • Show respect for the coach and officials
  • Provide support and encouragement for the child to play soccer - not forcing the child to play
  • Keep winning and losing in perspective
  • Help the child to assess and review their performance in an honest objective way.
  • Encourage and help rather than criticize
  • Coaches attitude to parents
  • Many welcome parents involvement. They value and understand the role parents play in encouraging children into football. They provide real roles for parents to become involved in the team, as assistant coaches as helpers at training, as equipment managers etc
  • Some view involvement as a nuisance. They tolerate their involvement, but do not really encourage any real involvement
  • Many other coaches believe parents have nothing valuable to offer, they don't understand the game and their role should be limited to watching their child play, from a distance!

In grassroots soccer there is one sure thing, those coaches who don't involve parents will eventually lose out. Parents have a very big influence on their children, far greater than any coach. If you want to develop as a coach, to improve your players and team and have more fun and enjoyment, it is critical to keep parents informed, involved and to listen to any concerns or ideas they may have.

There are a number of simple, but effective ways in which you can involve parents in the club their child plays for, to keep them informed and to help them become a positive force in their child's soccer education. These can all be discussed and implemented by organising a a parents' meeting.

Introduction to your club and the coaching staff

  • Introduce yourself and anyone working with you. Tell parents what your role is in the organisation, the background, etc. Prepare C.V's to hand out. Explain the type of club their child is joining.
  • The realistic ambitions and expectations of the club for the coming season
  • Outline the experience and background of the coaching staff. Let each coach say a few words of introduction
  • Introduce club officials and explain their roles in the running of the club
  • Outline the history of the club, including any notable successes
  • Explain the Child Protection Policy and health and safety issues
  • Explain the training and selection policy. Where the training and matches takes place and times of training
  • It is important that the parents understand the purpose of the meeting and why they are there. Outline the facts that the club can be so much better organised, with every one having a lot more fun and enjoyment if the parents become actively involved in their children's soccer education. To achieve this it will require the parents to get to know each other. Many will from previous seasons, but it is always good to start on a fun positive footing.
  • Explain that this is only an initial session to introduce the football programme and that more detailed workshops will be organised, if they wish to attend. Give an overview of the material you will cover in the meetings.

Parents introduction

For the parent to really participate and become involved in the club, they need to get to know each other and interact. There are many simple ice breaking techniques for people to very quickly get to know each other. This is one fun way for parents to get to know each other, you may know others.

  • Each parent has 1 minute to prepare a 20 second introduction about themselves. It should include their name, their childs name and one thing they are proud of. This could be serious or humorous and doesn't need to be about themselves. For example, Hi my name is Dave Smith, my son is Billy Smith and I'm proud of the fact that I once played left wing for Brentford youth team.
  • The parents then have an agreed period of time to go round the room, introducing themselves to as many people as possible. This is a very good ice breaker, but you may have other ones. The important thing is for the parents to get to know each other and form a relationship based upon a shared interest - their children.

Explain your clubs approach to children and soccer

  • Outline the positive benefits that soccer can offer to children, not just playing and training, but team working, developing discipline, fitness and respect and why and how parents are so very important in helping their children to develop through soccer. Consider including the following in this briefing:
  • A brief explanation of why soccer is of value to children and the benefits to them.
  • The coaching methods you use when coaching and how you will attempt to achieve them
  • How the emphasis and coaching and playing ethos is on having fun and the development of children as players and people - not just winning and losing
  • The role of the coach.
  • Outline the parent/coach/child relationship.
  • The expectation for coaches/children/parents. Discuss the role and use of the coaches code of conduct the players code of conduct and how you want to develop and implement a parents code of conduct
  • Talk about child protection and health and safety issues

Practical issues regarding the running of the club

  • The length of the season, include preseason
  • The length and number of training sessions per week
  • Whether the training will take place indoors or outdoors
  • The number and types of competitions the children will be involved in. League, cup other competitions
  • How the teams are selected and any substitution policy
  • Travelling arrangements
  • Equipment and kit needed to play and train. How and where to buy it. Laundry arrangements
  • Subscriptions, team fees, costs
  • Child protection policy and procedures
  • First aid/injury arrangements
  • Insurance situation
  • Any fund raising schemes
  • Social activities for juniors
  • Qualifications of coaches
  • Codes of conduct
  • Disciplinary procedures.

It is very useful to include all the above information in a club information pack that the parents can take away.

Summary

  • Allow parents to ask any questions they may have in relation to the parents meeting and their child's involvement in your club.
  • Summarise the key points you have covered. Highlight and reinforce the important role parents play in encouraging their children in football. Thank everyone for attending. Let them know the dates of future meetings. Make sure they know how and when to contact you.
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