14 Feb 2017
How to become a better football parent
A football parent. It is something wonderful and precious. We are committed, supportive, encouraging and always there for our child, whether it is a win, draw or loss. The best football parents can keep a perspective on it all and a smile on their face.
We have put together a suggested list of 15 things a football parent should consider.
- Let the football coaches’ coach. If you are telling your son or daughter – or any other player for that matter – to do something different from what their coach is telling them, you create distraction and confusion.
- It is very unnerving for many young players to try and perform difficult tasks on the field on the spur of the moment when parents are yelling at them from the sidelines. Let the kids play. If they have been well coached, they should know what to do on the field. If they make a mistake, chances are they will learn from it.
- Do not discuss the play of specific young players in front of other parents. How many times do you hear comments such as, “I don’t know how that boy made this team… or “she’s just not fast enough.”. Too many parents act as though their child is a‘star’, and the problem is someone else’s kid. Negative comments and attitudes are hurtful and totally unnecessary and kill parent harmony, which is often essential to youth team success.
- Discourage such toxic behavior by listening patiently to any negative comments that might be made, then address issues in a positive way. Speak of the positive qualities of a player, family or coach, not the negative.
- Do your level best not to complain about your son or daughter’s coaches to other parents. Once that starts, it is like a disease that spreads. Before you know it, parents are talking constantly in a negative way behind a coach’s back. If you have what you truly feel is a legitimate problem with your child’s coach – either regarding game strategy or playing time, arrange an appointment to meet privately, away from the pitch.
- Make only positive comments from the sideline. Be encouraging. Young players do not need to be reminded constantly about their perceived errors or mistakes. Their coaches will instruct them, either during the game or at half-time, and during training.
- Avoid making any negative comments about players on the other team, or the match officials. This should be simple: we are talking about youngsters, not adults who are being paid to play professionally.
- Try to keep interaction with parents on the other team as healthy and positive as possible. Who’s kidding whom? You want your child’s team to win. So do they. But that should not make us take leave of our senses, especially our common sense. Be courteous ’till it hurts; avoid the ‘tit for tat’ syndrome.
- Parents on the ‘other’ team are not the enemy. Neither are the boys or girls on the other team.
- What is the easiest thing to do in the youth sports world? Criticise the referees. Don’t criticise the referees. There are times when the officials make mistakes. And that can, unfortunately, directly affect the outcome of a game. That said, by and large those who officiate at youth football games are hardly overcompensated, and give it an honest – and often quite competent – effort. At worst, they at least try to be fair and objective. Give them a break!
- On that note, outbursts from parents on the sideline made toward the referees only signal to our own children on the field that they can blame the refs for anything that goes
wrong. Blaming others is not a formula for success in sports.
- Yelling out comments such as “good call, ref” or “thanks ref” may only serve to alienate an official. The ref always assumes they made the proper call, that’s why they made it. Trying to show superficial support because the call went ‘your’ way is simply annoying to the officials, and to anyone within earshot.
- Walking up and down all game long along the sidelines, following the play, is unnerving to players and totally unnecessary- particularly so if you are trying to yell out instructions to various players, including your own son or daughter. It is likely embarrassing to the player/players involved and simply counterproductive. If you want to coach, obtain your coaching certification and then apply for a job!
- We all feel things and are apt to be tempted to say things in the ‘heat of the moment’. But we don’t excuse athletes for doing inappropriate things in the ‘heat of the moment’ (there are penalties, suspensions, etc.) so we should apply similar standards to our own sideline behaviour. Ask yourself this: will I be proud of what I am about to say or do when I reflect on it tomorrow?
- The car park is not the time to ‘fan the flames’. Whether it is a coach’s decision, a referee’s call, a comment that was made, let it go. Don’t harass the coach, or an official, or a parent on the other team after the game is over. Go home, relax, and unwind. Talk positively with your child. The trip home is sometimes as important as the game itself. Make that time a good memory for your son or daughter by discussing as many positives as you can about him/her, her coach, her teammates, etc