Sunday, May 07, 2006

Youth Coaches Worst Nightmares

My youngest daughter plays her soccer games on Friday nights. My son's games are on Saturday morning. I love going to these games. Watching these games makes me realize how lucky I have been as a volleyball coach, so far.

What amazes me about these games is not the players nor the coaches. What I sit in stunned amusement of, is the parents.

The parents I'm talking about have belonged to the different teams that my kids are competing against. There are a few who belong to kids on my children's team. But without fail, every game I have attended has also been attended by a couple parents who have got to be every youth coach's worst nightmare. If you have ever attended a youth sporting event you must have seen the type. Loud, opinionated, yells a lot and has absolutely no clue what they heck they are yelling about.

Saturday's game was incredible. There was a forward on my son's team who kept drifting offsides while the other team was on offense. (if you don't know what offsides is in soccer click here) Since he was never involved in any plays, the referees never called him for being offsides. However they did call one of my son's opponents for offsides early in the game. His father on the sidelines started asking what his son had been penalized for. Another parent briefly, and incompletely, described offsides to him. This guy spent the rest of the game screaming at the referees to call offsides on my son's teammate. The more he yelled the angrier he got. I was impressed that he managed to never quite cross the line and become threatening. But he was very annoying. It got even worse as he started sucking the other parents around him into his frenzy. Eventually the whole thing was defuzed when my son's team finally kicked a ball to the offside player's side of the field and the ref called him offsides. After several minutes of "about time" yelling and self congratulations they started quieting down.

I also like the fathers that stand about 10 feet apart and yell conflicting advice at the player with the ball. One will be repeatedly yelling "Run with it!" while the other one yells "Clear it!" over and over again.

Then there is the parents who do know a little about soccer who yell instructions constantly. I asked my kids once if they could hear all the parents yelling on the sidelines. They both assured me that they either couldn't hear the parents or they didn't listen. They only listened when the coach yelled at them. Many of them don't seem to listen to him either.

I have been really lucky as a coach so far. I haven't had to deal with any really opinionated parents yet. At least none who mouth off during games. I did have to tell one parent two years ago to sit down and stop yelling at the ref. They sat down and then after the game apoligized to me and the official. I've had to point out to a couple others that their disparaging comments about the other team were audiable on the sidelines. They stopped immediately. I've had to have one meetings with the Principal, a player and her mother who were upset because the player felt as though I was not giving her enough special attention. I'm not kidding! She didn't insist on being treated like the rest of the team, she insisted on being special. So I put her on my special list of players that I make sure get treated exactly like all the other players on the team.

But for the most part I've been blessed with good parents. They do the things I ask them to and don't do the things I ask them not to. I'm firmly convinced that this has a lot to do with the fact that I'm coaching at a Catholic School. But I have also had pretty good luck with the parents at the city league in town. I'm not sure what to do if I ever get one of these soccer parent's kids on my team. Would it be unethical of me to tell my team to use them as targets during serving practice?

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