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Top 10 mistakes parents make about sport

David ClarkeBy David Clarke

Parents have a big influence on the type of player their child becomes. Parents have powerful emotions generated through their involvement with their children, which can be both positive enablers and negative barriers.

These will have wide-ranging and long-lasting influences on those young players. Parents need to look at the “big picture” issues and responsibilities, and not fall into making the common mistakes which abuse this power.

Top 10 mistakes

  1. Taking their child’s sport experience too seriously, and not mixing in the appropriate levels of fun and recreation.
  2. Expecting perfection in their child.
  3. Living vicariously – as though they were taking part themselves – through their child’s sport experiences.
  4. Making negative comments about other children, parents or coaches.
  5. Having an unrealistically overblown assessment of their child’s talent.
  6. Contradicting the advice and guidance of their child’s teachers, trainers and coaches, leading to the child being confused and torn in loyalties.
  7. Failing to realise when their child is developing their skills rather than being competitive.
  8. Failing to see the value of sports lessons as preparation for life itself.
  9. Not realising that their child can learn valuable sport and life lessons even when they lose.
  10. Labelling their child a choker or other name.

Parents are VITAL to soccer teams

One of the vital ingredients in coaching young soccer teams is the support of the players’ parents.

Better Soccer Coaching has a lot of information on how to control parents but you should also nuture and get the best out of them. 

Any player who needs lifts to matches or whose parents drop off and leave are no good to your team. It doesn’t matter how good the player is if his parents are not supportive you will end up tearing your hair out when he doesn’t turn up or you go to his house and his parents say “he’s still in bed” or they don’t know where he is.

You will find the other parents are forking out money to pay referees and for drinks and for other things a soccer team needs, but the absent parent gets off free.

The linesman rota will be short and that will get the other parents annoyed.

One of my best midfield players last season was constantly seeking lifts. Because he spent each weekend with different parents, away games were a nightmare, we could never find him! Home games he came on his bike. Eventually he stopped coming to those as well because he got no support and it began to mean little to him – he wanted his dad there to praise him. One of the other boys parents lived nearby but even though he knocked on the door there was often no sign of him.

My initial response was that he was just a boy who wanted to play, but it became a problem when numbers were short and he was taking the place of boys I had turned away when the initial squad was formed. His parents didn’t care whether he played or not and certainly never turned up to watch him play. A good player who just needed the support of parents was wasted.

Look after your parents you need them!

David Clarke, editor, Better Soccer Coaching