Soccer Parents’ Expectations – A Story of Many

The following was originally posted by Coaches Training Room.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where parents’ see their children with rose tinted glasses?

Many coaches have a story of such a parent in which they “know” their son is the next Neymar, Ronaldo, or Messi. The other day I met with such a parent and her son, he wanted to see about trying out for one of our competitive teams. After going over all the basic player information, such as playing experience, we were obliged to invite him out to one of our sessions during the week and evaluate him.

The player arrived at our training session and as things would have it we were working on 1v1 that night and progressing to several small-sided games in which we could evaluate players both offensively and defensively. There were moments in the game where he showed promise and others in which we could see what we could help correct in order to allow him to develop as a well-rounded soccer player.

After the session, as coaches, we discussed our evaluation amongst each other and then I approached the parents and went over the evaluation. We went into detail regarding the factors we look for in our potential players. As the attentive parents listened on, we went over the different skill-leveled teams which we thought their son belonged in. I assured them that each level has a coach whose sole interest is to develop the players for promotion. The parents seemed very happy with our findings and agreed with everything we pointed out.

After telling the parents their son belonged on a third tier team they then went over to the second first tier coach and asked about placing him on the top team as that is what he was playing on in his current club. The coach politely advised them that he would need to discuss his evaluation with the others and then make a decision however he stood behind our current findings.

As parents, we want the best for our children whether in sports, in life, or otherwise.

We all think our sons or daughters can be the next leader of our respective country or that they are the next world famous athlete, but at what cost?

Is shielding them from failure the route to go?

Do we constantly give them affirmation of greatness to the point that it hinders true development?

Navy Admiral Bill McRaven once said,

“If you can’t stomach failure, then you will never be a great leader.”

How true this statement is, especially in moments such as the story above. As parents wanting the best for their son, they inadvertently shielded him from being challenged as a soccer player. We need to challenge our children at crucial moments in their young lives.

If we cannot challenge our children how can we expect coaches and educators to do the same?

We all know what we have at home, in our children. Parents need to be realistic with their expectations and allow coaches to develop their sons or daughters to the best of their ability. You don’t want to create a headache for the next coach or educator in line.

Many clubs will have club, coach, and team expectations. They will also have goal sheets which parents can ask to have and complete. This will allow parents and their athletes to sit down and write realistic goals separately. Once complete they can discuss their goals together and with the coach. This will allow for a more rounded development of the player. Go to your club and ask if such goal sheets exist, if they don’t – suggest one be created. Families long after you are gone will be glad you did.

What are your thoughts?
What has been your experience with soccer parents?

Article By:
Marcos Palacios
Director of Coaching
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