How To Talk To The Soccer Coach Without Being Labelled As “That Parent”

At some point during your child’s soccer career, you’ll need to meet with the coach. These meetings can be awkward because parents and coaches have different goals and agendas. Often, coaches view parents indifferently at best, and as the enemy at the worst, due to interactions with “that parent.” Don’t be “that parent.” If you have concerns that you need to address to the coach, (whether it be playing time, coach behavior, team behavior, etc.) here’s how to voice your concerns to the coach without being labelled as “that parent.”

Before You Meet

Before you meet with your child's soccer coach, you need to do a couple of things:  

First off, it's always helpful if you can find ways to help the team. You don’t have to be super parent, but you can contribute in little ways, like volunteering to help other parents with carpools. If you have a canopy and it's a particularly hot day, you can offer that to the team to cover their bench on a hot day. You can volunteer to help the team manager plan for out of town tournaments. Just find little ways to help the team. That always gives the coach a favorable impression.

The other thing you want to do before is to always write down your specific concerns. This accomplishes several things:

  1. One thing, it'll allow you to keep the conversation brief and be considerate of everybody's time.
  2. The second thing is it'll allow you to know exactly what questions you have so when it comes up in conversation, you won't be thrown off by any emotions or in the heat of the moment so you'll know exactly what you want to discuss with the coach.
  3. You’ll have an easier time documenting the content of the meeting if you need to (more on that later)

During The Meeting

During the meeting, you want to do several things:

  • First, you want to compliment the coach on some point he or she is doing well. That always helps to break the ice and helps to bring in a positive mood.
  • Next, you want to ask what your child needs to do to improve, and this does a couple of things.
    • First of all, it lets the coach give their opinion, which is going to allow them to share their opinion as to what your child needs to do.
    • Second, it gives you a perspective from the coach's eyes what he or she is seeing and possibly what you can do to help your child improve.
    • Now, you'll want to voice your concerns.

      This is where those questions that you wrote down come in. Share those with the coach. You want to leave emotion out. The last thing you want to do is elevate emotions so it becomes a shouting match, or worse still, you lose your train of thought and forget one or more of your concerns in the heat of the moment.

The final thing you want to do is thank the coach for meeting with you. Remember, the coach's time is valuable (as is yours)and they may have another job and/or families. You want to thank them for their time and leave on a positive note.

After The Meeting

After you meet with the coach, ( 24-48 hours after), you want to send the coach a thank you email thanking them for taking the time to meet with you. You also want to document what you plan to do to help rectify the situation, and then ask the coach for feedback on your game plan. This serves the dual purpose of helping you address your concerns and providing documentation of your meeting should the coach not address your concerns. If the coach fails to address your concerns, you have solid documentation to escalate your case to his or her supervisor

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About the Author

Buford Mobley is passionate about educating soccer parents and helping to guide them through the bewildering and complicated maze of elite Youth Soccer. He focuses on practical strategies that parents can use to develop confident, successful, and happy soccer players. He is the Father of a daughter who played recreational soccer for eight years, and a son who currently plays competitive travel soccer. He holds a “F” license with USSF.

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