The behavior of parents within a soccer team can have huge implications on the coaching environment for the players. Respectful, supportive, and emotionally controlled conditions can bring the best out of everyone. As coaches or parents, you have a responsibility to promote this culture to make it enjoyable for all.
What does good parent etiquette look like?
It’s about respecting several factors within the environment. Soccer parents must manage their behaviors. Supportive parents will encourage and support as opposed to shouting, complaining, and arguing. Emotional control is a vital aspect of good parent etiquette as it is so easy to be wound up in the heat of the moment.
Doing your homework before you even take your child to a soccer team, can save a lot of heartaches. Quite often parents do not know what the environment should look like. By doing a little homework you can quickly see what a soccer team is about. Ideally, you want your child in an organized, fun, and developmental environment. I have made a list of positive and worrying signs below.
|POSITIVE SIGNS||WORRYING SIGNS|
|Development over winning||Win at all costs approach|
|Equal opportunities for all players||Coaches shouting and screaming|
|Coaches who want to help||Parents interfering with player activities|
|Fun engaging training sessions||Coaches with a lack of control over the player’s behavior|
|Clear lines of communication||Players standing around too much in training and not practicing enough|
|Qualified staff||Staff with little to no experience|
|A welcoming environment||Poor facilities and equipment|
Some parents may want to put their child into a perceived winning environment and this is fine but just be prepared for a potentially ruthless process in terms of meeting standards and having to maintain them. If these standards are not met then your child’s place in the squad could be at risk or their game time could be severely reduced.
Some parents do not know this when they put their child into these types of environments and become annoyed, bitter, and frustrated when decisions towards their children are not what they expected.
Being A Respectful Parent
This is simply understanding your rights as a parent, having high personal and professional standards of behavior than being mindful that you follow these standards of behavior each time you spectate.
As a parent within your child’s soccer team, you do have a voice and you have a right to:
- To be listened too and respected
- To receive feedback about performance of your child
- To observe and attend training and games within county guidance rules
Be mindful of your timing in exercising these rights as wanting to be listened to or get feedback from the coach 5 minutes before a session starts is unrealistic. Try to respect the coach’s time and give the coach a heads up if you would like to chat with them. This allows you both to prepare accordingly.
Personal standards of behavior are vital, in general, I would suggest the following as a start point:
- Be on your best behavior and not use bad language harass or physically abuse, coaches, opponents or officials
- Do not do anything that will offend or intimidate any other person
- Let the coach do their job, just enjoy watching and do not get too involved
Think about your standards of behavior, how you would act if you were at your child’s school? if your actions would see you told off or disciplined then chances are the behavior is not welcome. Remember the rights you have but exercise them at the right time.
Professional standards of behavior are about protecting the image of yourself and the team your child is involved with. Negative press can have a detrimental effect on the team’s ability to recruit and compete in the competitions they take part in. The following are some suggestions around professional standards.
- Conduct yourself correctly each time observe training or games
- Arrange discussions away from the club and never around other players or parents
- Show respect to everyone, applaud good play, encourage both teams
This list is by no means exhaustive but it should give any parents out there a clear heads up about their actions and behaviors when attending with your child.
Being a Supportive Parent
If you ask a child why they play sport their reasons will often be different from why you think they play. As parents, it is important to encourage your child to be committed to their teams and give their best effort each time they participate. In general, that is all you can ask of anyone.
Telling them off for not performing or giving them a dressing down every time they finish the game will only dissolve their passion for the sport. Children develop at different times so comparing them to others again will create disharmony. It is my opinion that children need to develop their passion for the sports they play.
Every parent sees the best in their child and believes they have the potential to be a superstar but unfortunately there is around a 98% chance that they won’t. With this in mind, it becomes important to make their journey as enjoyable as you can for your child. Enjoy watching them develop and grow and encourage them to be their best self each time they participate.
If you do have to get involved then try to encourage a growth mindset by asking the right questions, this will encourage your child to enjoy challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, learn how to get better rather than comparing themselves to others or thinking they can’t achieve something because they failed a few times.
Regularly telling your child that skills and achievement come through effort and commitment is important. Keep reminding them that they should seek new ways to do things and keep being a student of the game. Be careful not to give praise up too easily as they can think they are doing better than they are. I have listed some support statements or questions that parents could use to help their children.
|You had some great moments in that practice, can you tell me about them?|
|We learn at different speeds, it may take longer to get this, but stick at it and you will get there|
|Some great competitors may have played longer or practiced harder than you|
|People learn in different ways, let’s keep trying to find ways that work for you|
|Is there something you don’t understand? Do you want me to go over it with you or ask your coach to help?|
Another aspect of being a supportive parent is trying to be helpful to the child and their team. This could be in the form of spectating, it could be attending fundraising events that the club or team organize or it might be actively participating in fundraising events. Engaging in activities of this sort can demonstrate that you care and that you’re trying to support your child’s interests.
Be mindful of social media, try not to post videos or clips of your child’s games without permission from both teams, refrain from posting negative statements about the players, the opponents the club itself as these things can create unnecessary problems for yourself. I would even suggest limiting the comments you make about your child.
I know you are proud but what if it does not work out for your child at that club and you have posted week after a week on social media how good and how well your child is doing. This can create unneeded pressure on you as the parent and on the child if they see these posts regularly. Again if you do have to post online I would suggest posting around the effort and commitment of your child rather than performance or results.
The game of soccer can bring out many different emotions, including excitement, joy, and happiness to name a few positive emotions. Negative emotions can also be experienced as well, anger, frustration, regret. As a parent, your emotions can often get the better of you when you get engrossed in spectating or you feel that your child was unfairly treated. Managing your emotions is something that will take practice but will be worth it.
It’s important to note here that I am not suggesting you watch your child and say nothing or do nothing. Part of the excitement of soccer is the emotions you experience while watching. It is fine to express and feel these emotions as long as it does not directly affect or impose on another person negatively. Once this occurs conflict often follows and this can lead to heated exchanges between parents.
If you struggle with emotional control then it may be useful to have a few ideas of how to control yourself when you feel that your emotions might get the better of you. Being present and knowing how you are feeling can be a good place to start, once you know how you feel you can start to manage how you act or react. Use the table below to help you understand and control your emotions.
|QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF||BE MINDFUL OF YOUR EMOTIONS AND MANAGE THEM|
|AM I IN CONTROL?||CALM, HAPPY, AT EASE, AMUSED, PLEASED, GRATEFUL|
|AM I LOSING CONTROL?||UPSET, FRUSTRATED, HYPER, AGITATED, CRITICAL|
|HAVE I LOST CONTROL?||ANGER, YELLING, AGGRESSION, RAGING, FURIOUS|
|IF I AM IN CONTROL||STAY HERE, ENJOY THE GAME, STAY PRESENT, SET A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR YOUR CHILD|
|IF I FEEL THAT I AM LOSING CONTROL||TAKE A DRINK OF WATER, COUNT TO 10 SLOWLY, TAKE 3 – 5 SLOW DEEP BREATHS|
|IF I LOSE CONTROL||WALK AWAY FOR 5 MINS, TENSE UP YOUR HANDS AND RELEASE A FEW TIMES, COUNT 10 THINGS THAT ARE RED TO DISTRACT YOU|
Remember your words and actions will have consequences. You must remain in control to set a good example for your child. Showing frustration and expressing anger in front of crowds of parents and other children can put off, intimidate and worry others. Would you like your child to feel this way whilst they are playing soccer? Of course not, try to stay in control and be a great role model to your child and others.
Watching your child play and participate should be an enjoyable experience. Staying present and remembering that it is their journey and not yours should help you know your place. You are there to guide, motivate and support as opposed to argue, criticize and control. Try to set a good example for your child by being respectful of the environment and setting high personal and professional standards.
Being a supportive parent and encouraging your child to adopt a growth mindset towards their sport can support their development as opposed to stifling it through criticism or put-downs. Try to get them to embrace learning and give their best effort each time they play. Supporting the team as a spectator, helping with fundraising, and raising awareness of the team are useful ways to you can show support.
At some point, your emotions may get the better of you and you must remain in control and act in a respectful nonaggressive way. There will certainly be times when you angry or upset and it is your responsibility to set a good example to your child and the team that you can control them. The tips provided should help you understand your level of control and some basic tips to manage them.
How do you deal with bad sports parents? Try to avoid being critical of them and approach the coach of the team or a committee member to ask if they can address their behavior and remind them of the club code of conduct, don’t try to sort the problem out yourself and this could lead to further conflict
Should I talk to the coach about game time? Yes you should do this, you must arrange this at a convenient time for the coach and express your feelings in a respectful nonaggressive way, listen to the coaches responses, and try to set a course of action for your child