The Canadian magazine MacLean’s has a disturbing, though not altogether surprising, article about the corrosive influence of parents on youth hockey. Although the article focuses on Canada’s national sport, it’s equally applicable to soccer and other sports in this country. In my experience as a coach, parents completely lacking the tiniest shred of perspective are by far the biggest reason kids quit sports.
Dear sports parents,
If you care more about the standings than your child player, there’s a problem.
And that problem is you.
Please relax. For your kid’s sake.
One of the harder but more necessary things you have to learn as a coach is when to put your arm around a player and when to give him a good kick in the butt.
Some think get deluded by Hollywood movies into thinking that coaching no more complicated than giving a Herb Brooks/Miracle or Win One For the Gipper speech. There’s a lot more to it than that. Progress on a team is rarely a straight line.
Heard a great compliment from one of my seniors last fall. He’d recently transferred from our school to another, so this was his first year on our soccer team. The coach of his previous team is well-known for yelling and swearing every fifth word. The kid said to me, “Thanks for a great season, coach. This is the first time I actually enjoyed playing soccer.”
It was very gratifying to hear. Definitely made me feel like I was doing something right. He was a first-team league all-star too, which further illustrates that enjoying a sport and being successful at it are not mutually exclusive, as some coaches seem to think.
On the other hand, it’s kind of sad that an awesome kid like him could play soccer his whole life but have to wait until he’s 17 years old to finally enjoy it. It’s amazing he didn’t quit the sport years ago.
Many other kids quit for exactly that reason.
I read an interesting article in The Oregonian recently about sports parenting. It began:
A Southwest Portland mom last week finished her first Little League postseason tournament and found it a stressful experience, especially when she saw umpires calling strikes and everyone keeping score at her 8-year-old son’s games.
The first thing the lady (and the other parents) should tell herself repeatedly is that the game she is watching involves EIGHT-YEAR OLDS. The only reasons for anyone to get stressed are if the coaches are being abusive or her son’s physical safety is at risk. Otherwise, relax and don’t ruin it for the EIGHT-YEAR OLDS.
Have any of you coaches every noticed this? A good chunk of the lectures US Youth Soccer gives to coaches and clubs is about the importance of player development and how winning should be de-emphasized… while most of the emails they send out are pimping the results of their various youth championships?