winning versus having fun, kids sports teams, etiquette on soccer field

How to Be the Perfect Volunteer Parent Coach

Coaching Training for Parent Volunteers

PickyKidPix is lucky to have had great coaches for soccer — 5 years and running now. Living and competing in towns the mimic those in A Race to Nowhere, it’s easy to find parents who are out of control on the sidelines, screaming at their child or a teenage referee. It’s not a pretty sight. How do you create a supportive environment for your child? Our coach has very specific and concrete rules of engagement.

The bold and italicized points are mine! See, I told you that he is not a screamer!
Parent expectations
a. Help child attend as many practices as possible
b. Communicate any absences/lateness in advance
c. Supportive and encouraging at all times
d. Zero tolerance at games regarding officials
e. No coaching on the sidelines!

f. Let me know if your child is having an issues on the team

Player Expectations

a. Attend as many practices as possible
b. Be prepared for every practice – ball, water bottles, etc.
c. Work hard from start to finishd. Stay focused on the task at hand
e. Get to know all teammates
f. Be supportive/encouraging of teammates

Game expectations

a. Focus is individual and team development……not winning
b. Kids will play a variety of positions throughout the game
c. All players will play an equal amount of time
d. Players will be encouraged to take risks/chances….not just play it safe

Coach expectations

a. Present and on-time for all practices/games
b. Communicate any changes in schedule in timely manner
c. Focus on development…..not results
d. Provide relentless encouragement

e. Always stay positive

Today was our first round of soccer games. 3 for us today. 3 for us tomorrow. A parent on our team inadvertently yelled out encouraging instructions to his daughter, and then caught himself. It’s so easy to get caught up in the drama of the game as our girls battled it out in a closely matched game. Win or lose, our coach assures us, is NOT what matters. It’s all about the rematch to mark progress. It doesn’t get easier to watch my child play but stay silent. But that’s the way my kid prefers me to be!

p.s. Here is more advice for parents on how to behave on the sidelines from our girls soccer town league:

Many parents have asked me about what they should and shouldn’t say from the sideline during games.   Please NEVER say anything to a youth ref, even if you think the call was completely wrong.  NGS maintains a ZERO TOLERANCE policy regarding parents (and coaches) talking to the referees.  If there are on-field safety issues, you should discuss only with your daughter’s coach (who will discuss with the opposing coach).  In general, it’s great to cheer, and to cheer loudly.  Stay away from saying anything instructional, and avoid using verbs and player names as it can distract younger players.  

p.s. Here are some coaching book suggestions if you are coaching your child’s soccer team.

The Baffled Parent’s Guide to Coaching Youth Soccer by Bobby Clark

Step by step advice from Stanford’s soccer coach great Bobby Clark. He goes over the most important aspect of soccer: taking a group of kids and building a team. (And kudos to you for taking on soccer coaching with no experience. He is assuring that this will be a rewarding experience for you and the kids.) There is also a companion book on drills.

101 Great Youth Soccer Drills: Skills and Drills for Better Fundamental Play by Robert L. Koger

My kids don’t notice that they are learning soccer skills when it’s made into some sort of game. Use Koger’s ideas for drilling the basics: Passing, Trapping, Heading, Shielding, Dribbling and juggling, Protecting the goal, Shooting, and Playing in their positions as the basis that you then build games around.

Click on image of book to view at Amazon or go here to to purchase at Barnes and Noble.

image from

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Artchoo

    When I started going to my step kids games, I was shocked at the behavior of some of the parents. It’s like they completely lose control and slip into some weird form of road rage on the sidelines. Yeesh.
    Artchoo recently posted…6 Things I Have MadeMy Profile

    • Hi Artchoo,
      That is exactly right. I was shocked after 12 hours of club soccer games … “road rage” or really berating their children publicly was what I saw too. Shocking and sad. I felt sorry for the opposition’s goalkeeper whose dad yelled at her non-stop, interspersed with a weird thumbs up grin when he thought she was doing it correctly. They had constant conversations while he yelled at her and she yelled back at him.

      OK, they are 10 year old girls! We didn’t end up scoring on her — we tied 2:2 — but I truly felt that if we had beaten them by scoring on her that dad would have gone ballistic and it meant very little if we won or lost. I’d rather we DIDN’T score and lose so that she wouldn’t end up beaten or verbally abused.

      Craziness, I tell you! I like our policy of keeping quiet on the sidelines. It works for me!

  2. vanita

    ya know, i really hope hubby handles the sports stuff when the little ones get bigger, this seems like a lot of work.
    vanita recently posted…Weight Loss Program’s Secret WeaponMy Profile

    • Hi Vanita,
      It’s not so much the work of coaching (my husband does a little) but listening to the parents berate their kids on the sidelines. That’s pretty disturbing to me. Hopefully the coach will lay down the law that parents are not allowed to “coach” their kids from the sidelines.

      But yes, coaching your kids’ teams is a lot of work. I’m sure your hubby will be great at it!:)

  3. Tee

    As a coach & mom & volunteer, I could NOT agree more with this post! Some of the parents behaviour is appalling! I had a woman last year, tell her 5 year old daughter, she was a disgusting excuse for a human because she didn’t win! I had no choice but to confront the mother & get the head ouch involved because it was abuse to the little girl! I try to encourage all my team girls to go out, have fun, enjoy themselves, be safe & remember that winning isn’t everything but SAFETY IS! I try to encourage the parents of my girls to be supportive and encouraging & remind their girls that winning isn’t everything! Most of my girls parents are pretty good but I’ve had some so bad, they were expelled from attending games! I don’t allow swearing, verbal (or any other kind of of) abuse or anything like that! It ruins it for kids 🙁 which is heart breaking

    • Hi Tee,
      Don’t even get me started on our Indoor Soccer game championship last Sunday. The coach of the other team is a total nutcase. His team was undefeated for two seasons and when they lost, he threw such a screaming nutty that it was appalling and probably took away from the kids’ victory. What a jerk.

      You have a great attitude! I wish it were your team we played instead. And ouch, it is hard to confront a maniac parent! Kudos to you for doing that!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Chapter Books for Boys Set in ChicagoMy Profile

  4. Tee

    Oh, wow! So your kids lost, as long as they had fun what should it matter? I hate coaches like that! They’re horrible examples for kids! Go pro of you want to throw hissy fits!

    Thanks! My family lives below the poverty line, so soccer & dance which are gifts to my daughter, are honestly a true pray coming true for us! I’m a firm believer in children having all the opportunities they can. I think parents need to learn to support that! You’re right, it’s NOT easy to confront a parent like that one, but I HAD to! That little girl not only got her feelings hurt, but she was being verbally abused & I couldn’t stand around & watch it. My daughters autistic, I’m used to the verbal abuse of strangers on my parenting, so I refuse to stand by & let them abuse a child! Parent or not!

    Thanks for your kind words! I love your blog & follow you closely on pintrest!!!! Thank you 🙂

  5. Team sports, like soccer, teach the value of working together to reach a common goal. Players on a team must work to overcome problems that arise and learn problem-solving skills.

  6. Soccer training is often physically challenging and provides a good workout to children. There are many games and activities that are introduced to children during soccer training that helps to work out various parts of their bodies.

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