How to survive ‘The Parents’

This season I had a chat with an U11 Coach who had been having problems fielding a full side at the weekends due to various unforeseen reasons.

I asked him did he expect to have a full side at the weekend.

I don’t know I have sent out texts and emails to everyone but only had 5 replies. ‘The parents’ just don’t get back in touch. It is always the same ones and either the kids don’t turn up to training or ‘the parents’ are not there so I can’t ask them direct. It is hard to know what to do when you don’t know till just before kick-off whether you have a full side or not.”

He carried on for around 5 minutes about how hard it was dealing with ‘the parents’ they drop their kids off then they’re away, they won’t help with the nets or at training and they don’t get in touch if they can’t make it. All the usual stuff I am sure you have heard many, many times.

What made this conversation extraordinary was that the previous season when he was ‘a Parent’ not ‘a Coach’ he was exactly the same. I was not the Coach of his team but I did one session a week that his son was to attend. His son missed many sessions and I never got any notification from him although he apparently now believes it is not that hard to send a text.

I had his son’s jacket for weeks because it was left behind at one of the few sessions he attended and although I sent numerous emails and texts that I had it I eventually had to bring it to a home game and personally hand it to them. At this point I checked with him that I had the right email address and mobile number but it made no difference.

I ran holiday programs that his son turned up at without registering. He just appeared on the day and expected that I would be able to fit him in.

The point of this blog is that my life has been made a lot easier by just assuming there is a perfectly good reason for many of the parental issues faced as a Grassroots Football Coach. Instead of thinking of them as people who are all deliberately trying to make my life more difficult I try to regard them as simply being busy people who are unaware of the issues caused by their actions.

I try to apply the 80/20 rule which means that 80% of the time there is a perfectly good reason why an issue has arisen and only 20% of time is it any sort of a minor or major problem with ‘the parents’ at all.

Regularly simply by talking to the parents you find out that they are rushed off their feet taking one child to one place at a certain time and another somewhere else at a certain time or every night of the week they are doing something whether it is guitar lessons, other sports or tutors to help with school so football is just another activity not the most important activity of the week for all of them.

To illustrate this lets look at the broader issue of parents involved in youth sports I have read hundreds of articles about ‘out of control’ parents or parents ruining sports for their children and yet in my experience I have met significantly more parents who are no problem.

Of course I have met plenty of nutcases but if I am honest there would only a handful of parents that I would be glad never to see again. Although if I am going to be truly honest those handful probably make up 80% of my stories about parents too.

So my message to you is maybe they didn’t reply to that text or email because they have to check it with their partner first and then just forgot about it because they get hundreds of texts and emails each week. Maybe they don’t help out because they have no time, they have to be somewhere else or it is the only little break they get. Maybe they don’t always let you know they cannot make it because they had so much on.

Just assume there is a good reason because in my experience there often is.

Thanks to all the Coaches who contact me and retweet my blog it is really appreciated.

Till next time


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