6) In your experience as a coach, how can uneducated and unsupported parents, effect player(s) (short& long term)?
Too much pressure, contradicting the club/coach, effecting a players confidence, consequences on bad performance, rewards for goals/assists etc
This is a big problem. I therefore think this is a big responsibily for NA’s, Clubs and Coaches.
We all need to take the responsibility to inform, coach, help, guide the parents to become more educated.
We know that in several ways if parents are not educated or unsupported this really can be difficult for the children and/or difficult for the coaches. I summed up a couple of reasons:
- When parental support or involvement goes to an unwanted amount, it can be difficult for the child, as it often causes them to experience pressure.
- Difficult parents are parents who express themselves negatively by expressing themselves negatively towards their child (for example on their way home in the car, a.k.a. ‘the driving prison’) or the coach, club or referee.
- When the behavior is mainly focused on the results or outcomes, with a deeper desire that the child should be given all the opportunities and exploited to bring out the best that is in the child that also can be difficult. Of course in principle it’s not a bad idea in a way, but by exhibiting this negative behavior, the parent imposes especially unnecessary pressure on the child, which means that the child in all likelihood has less fun in the sport (and will certainly not achieve this ‘success’).
- Another way of troublesome parents is a growing group that is referred to as a ‘helicopter parent’, ‘curling parent’ or ‘snowplow parent’. This type of parents want to remove obstacles from their children with the best intentions, based on the idea of making their child grow up as optimally and carefree as possible. However, by taking away the ‘proverbial snow’, these parents do not serve their child.
7) What advice would you give coaches/clubs regarding youth sports parents?
My advice would be that coaches and clubs would all agree that parents have a necessary and important role in a good pedagogical sporting development of the child. It’s required that coaches and parents must work closely together to create a good sport environment for the child.
I believe the Self Determination Theory (SDT) from Deci & Ryan (2000) should be the pedagogical foundation for all the interactions from the coaches & parents in the best interest of the individual child. Within that mentioned earlier task-oriented climate the three basic psychological needs (competence, autonomy and relatedness) will positively affect the intrinsic motivation of the child. Which forms the baseline to enjoy and develop, but also as a result to perform better.
It’s essential that there’s involvement from day one from the parents and throughout the whole season. Clarity about the ‘why’ we are doing what we are doing and ‘how’ we are doing what we are doing with their child in the sporting activities is key. It would be really great if the parents in that environment started sharing their information pro-actively about their children, so it becomes a two-way street! And that they would also approach their child in a similar way (SDT) as you as a coach do, so everything for the child becomes more obvious.
8)What types of behaviours/mannerisms/comments would you encourage parents to demonstrate?
If a parent supports the child in a positive way or is involved in the sport of the child in a positive way, they should emphasize on tasks that the child himself can influences e.g. perseverance, a positive attitude on the pitch, wanting to improve himself.
Rather than on the result e.g. winning the match, scoring goals ….
We know that children themselves indicate that they like their parents to be involved and support them in their sports experiences. Positive and supportive comments about their attitude, sportsmanship and commitment are preferred over behavior that puts a lot of pressure on performance and success.
And finally, I would say the most important is to really enjoy your child having fun by playing and allowing him or her to make mistakes. Cause then the learning happens. Do not live your own dreams through your child but support your child. And support your coach, try to be a team together in the best interest of your child.
9)What is next for you as a coach / club/organisation?
As the NA we’ve done a lot in these recent years on this subject. I think good initiatives and changes have been implemented, for example through the national action plan ‘Towards a safer Sports Climate’ (2012-2018), to which we were attached.
We have a facilitating and supportive role to optimize the cooperation between clubs, coaches and parents. This can be done by helping, guiding and advising clubs by clarifying the roles of those directly involved in the child’s sports climate. So that they all understand that a good pedagogical sports climate can only be created when you work together.
We still see many opportunities to do this even better and more intensively in the coaching and Head Academy courses. The role of supportive parents and the importance could be a bigger part of it.
We are also expanding our facilitation (on and offline) in products and services for our clubs and their members (from board members to coaches and parents).
We’re certainly not done, but we’re heading forwards in a positive way.
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