Date of publishing: 28th February 2018
Can you give us a bit of background information on yourself?
My name is Alfie Tate, living in Cambridgeshire. I currently coach at Mildenhall Town F.C with the youth sides (U12’s – U14’s) as well as working with a number of local colts sides offering multiple sessions to coaches who are keen to have a fresh face deliver sessions. I’m FA Level 2 Qualified and have been coaching for the past 4 years working with age groups from U5’s all the way through to U18’s.
How would you define a parent(s) role within the youth sports?
I think a parents role is quite simple, and that’s to help support the development of their child. In a nutshell, that’s what it is for me! That might include helping the Manager run the tuck shop, setting up the pitch or simply offering a bit of encouragement to their child and their team-mates. Overall I want them to create a positive environment on match days and training sessions to ensure their child is enjoying themselves but also able to express themselves and learn – that’s key for me. Those are the types of parents I love to work with.
What are the benefits of being positive youth sports parents?
I think it has massive benefits and it makes the whole rollercoaster ride of a season so much easier when you have a group of parents (and players!) who have a positive outlook on things. Something might have gone wrong in a match or a child has misbehaved in training, right, what’s the solution? Rather than criticising people and pointing fingers, can we work together to find a suitable solution which can benefit the group and the individual in the long-term? I think that’s the sign of positive parenting for me and like I said before, they’re the type who are a dream to work with.
Players benefit from positivity so much as well. I’ve seen it in performances where players have gone out and expressed themselves so well, they’ve made mistakes and the environment has just been so positive despite the result – I encourage players to take those risks and once parents understand your way of coaching and your beliefs and buy into them, it makes the process so much easier for myself and the players.
As a coach, I think it’s easier to communicate and work directly with parents who are positive. Its so much easier to communicate with them as you have that sense of trust, that they believe in what you as a coach are trying to achieve, just as well as the players.
What advice would you give any youth sports participator, that has the ambition, drive and commitment to reach the highest level?
Advice to the player
My advice to the child would be to never let anyone doubt you. However ambitious you are, go for it. You can’t take a child’s dream away from them, ever, as that’s the moment you limit their potential! As long as they keep that hunger to push on, then why can’t they make it? Stay hungry for the dream, but stay hungry to learn. So many people will try and pull you down but you can’t allow it. Use it as motivation to push on and be successful!
Advice to the parents
My advice to parents would be to support their child’s dream in whatever way possible, but don’t force them and don’t try and achieve it for them. Remind them that there’s a slim chance but that you believe in them and just encourage them to work their hardest and again, don’t let anyone doubt them or their dream.
In your experience as a coach, how does negative approaches from the parents ,effect the player(s) short & long term?
With negative parents, you’ll generally see a lot of division amongst a group too. Parents standing away from certain parents, bickering amongst each other, criticising certain players or coaches – it happens, and I think it’s a big part of a team’s chemistry. It doesn’t just effect the parents or coaches, it effects the players too. Parents take their child home and they’ll have a moan in the car, they’ll moan over the dinner table. What does that do? It influences the mind of the child and then they turn into ‘blame mode’ over time. “Not my fault”, “Well he can’t pass the ball”. I want to develop players with a growth mindset, players who are keen to learn, open to criticism, look at themselves and what they can do better before pointing the finger at others. That’s a long-term effect of parents pointing the finger at other people and it can eventually rub off on a child to do the same.
What advice would you give coaches regarding youth sports parents?
I certainly think education for parents is a key one. I’ve been to many grassroots football games where parents are negatively effecting their child/team in one way or another just by the language they use, the tone etc and I think clubs need to deliver more workshops to help guide parents on their actions on a match day. Some parents forget that they’re not the coach! They think they have the right to guide players and tell them where they should be on the pitch or how to pass a ball. Children don’t make mistakes on purpose, they’re there to learn, make mistakes and have fun mainly!
Having a clear and regular communication with parents is beneficial too in my opinion – although some of the best parents are those that keep out the way, trust in you as a coach and only really talk when they feel the need to (for the benefit/support for their child).
What advice would you give youth sports parents for the car journey to and from youth sports practices and/or games?
Don’t talk about the result! Win, lose or draw! Ask them questions about the game, but I don’t think it’s necessary to talk about the result, certainly at a young age!
Ask them questions like “Did you have fun?” “How did you think you played?” “What did you learn?” – those sort of questions trigger them to think about the game and their performance. Certainly when they get older and want to improve more, it’s god to get them to think about how they played, what they learnt, what they could improve from that game etc as it gets them into ‘review mode’.
Encourage them to work hard, have fun and try and learn something new!
What types of behaviours/mannerisms/comments would you encourage parents to demonstrate?
Just be positive. Encourage everyone, your child, the team, the opposition! Make the atmosphere a positive one and make sure that you’ve played your part in all the children coming off happy regardless of the result. “Good Try Billy! Keep going!”.
It all depends on your tone of voice too, keep it light, encouraging and vibrant! Not aggressive! Quite a few parents shouting “Come on Billy!!” but their tone makes it sound like they’re pressurizing the child.
If in doubt of what to say, it’s better to not say anything! Keep quiet and let the children play with freedom and expression. That’s my preference as a coach to see the touchline silent.
In regards to training, total silence. Nothing needs to be said as the coach is in his prime setting to get out there and teach the players. Let the coach do his job and coach!
What is next for you as a coach / club / organisation?
Next step for me, is to continue coaching as much as possible before looking to do my UEFA B, Futsal Level 1 (possibly Level 2!) with the aim of getting through to a local professional Academy in the next few years. The main thing is that I keep learning, from my sessions and games, watching other people coach, trying to be creative with my own ideas but also networking and speaking with coaches better than me to try and keep pushing myself to that next level.
You can find more about Alfie on these social media outlets:
Facebook: Alfie Tate Coaching
Massive thank you, Alfie for taking the time to complete the following interview questions.
The Sporting Resource