Are Parents Really Enemies?

Guest Blog by: Ryan Roy Shah

Experiences & Background:

I am an FAW C, Scottish FA C and FA Level 2 qualified coach living and working in Pune, India, with Mega Pro Football Academy. We train over 40 children from the age of 4 to 17 and our children have had considerable success in terms of results, not that it really matters at youth level.

There is a brilliant photo famous on most coaching portals of Messi and Suarez  sitting down calm and relaxed, watching their kids play for the youth team.
That particular photo is of great envy to most grassroots coaches around the globe.⁣⁣
Being in the environment of coaching youth players, it is a given that there will be parental involvement.⁣⁣
We have different types of parents of children at our academy – Those that come and watch their children play, full stop. Those that watch their children play and give praise, suggestions and constructive criticism to the coaches. And, those that think solely for their child and despite it being a team game, expect coaches to give constant individual attention to their kid.⁣⁣
The second type is ideal for me but we do get a few of the last type as well.⁣⁣
I have seen enough youth coaches being questioned by parents, which is not a bad thing but they do tend to forget that coaches have to think about so many other players in the team when making decisions and not just one player.⁣⁣
The most humorous is when they give tactical advice that is irrelevant to football, and I do not blame them for it because they gather their past recreational level playing experience and match they see on television to make judgments. This is a big reason why I would suggest every football parent to take a week off to do the basic Level 1 or equivalent qualification just to get a basic idea of the finer aspects of the game and what coaching involves. This would help them judge the coach of their child better.
I have experienced and seen other coaches being questioned on team selection, style of play, minutes on the pitch etc. I have also seen parents for whom the most important thing is to see their child’s Under 8 team win the tournament, even if it is at the expense of inappropriate tactics and not giving equal playing time.⁣

At our academy, we like to field our teams in tournaments against higher age groups whenever possible because we believe that accelerates their development. Parents are well aware of this but we still have a few parents who come up worried about why the team lost the match.⁣

The question is, would I rather have them around or not?
We as coaches do our coaching in a way a youth player should be coached but when it comes to parental interference, we tend to forget who the first and biggest influencers are in the lives of a child.⁣

It took me a few years to realize that when a child signs up with us, it is not just the child that we have agreed to coach, but also his or her parents. Number one, they are the ones paying the fees and number two, they are probably more keen than the child to see the child do well. Keeping this belief in mind, if I would be patient if the child does not do well, then why should I lose hair if the parents go out of order? It is absolutely the same.⁣

When parents do interfere, they do so with the best possible intention, which is to see the child do well and it is only their limited understanding of the technicalities of the game and them sometimes getting overwhelmed and forgetting that not only their child is playing in the team, that gets them to make illogical suggestions and complains to the coach of the team. However, it is because of this fact that we as coaches exist. If not, every parent would become a coach.
The coaches at my academy take time out without pay to wake up early on a Sunday morning to be present for the team’s matches and it hurts to see them being interrogated on so many decisions.⁣

As a coach, I would try to take it positively though because we are the biggest influencers for a child’s parent when it comes to their son or daughter’s football education. I believe it is our job to educate the parents in football about why we do what we do, and at times, some suggestions are worthwhile and can help a coach improve. Also, this is a good practice for those coaches that aim to make it to the professional game as managers because the questioning by parents is a cakewalk compared to what reporters ask at press conferences.⁣

Some coaches try their best to avoid interaction with parents and that in my view, says a lot about the coach’s self confidence. If I am doing my job with complete honesty, integrity and effort, to the best of my ability, I would have a logical answer to every question of the parent. Distancing oneself from parents gradually distances us from the player because again, the parents are their biggest influencers till a certain age.

Dealing with parents as a football coach is a test of patience, temper, anxiety, doubt, wit, open mindedness and every possible emotion associated with the sport. For the benefit of everyone associated with our own team , we as coaches should view parents as team mates and not opponents.⁣

All copyright reserved ©RyanRoyShah⁣

Follow Ryan on Instagram: @coachryanroy

Thank you for contributing⁣

The Sporting Influencer


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