Dealing With Soccer Parents – From Frustration to Success in 6 Simple Steps

dealing with soccer parents from frustratin to success in six simple steps

Recently I was coaching my daughter’s U9 team and during the game one of the players got the ball with tons of space in front of her — so, naturally I encouraged her to dribble into the space.  At the exact same time one of the girls’ relatives screamed “PASS THE BALL!!!”

Well, as Naji Shatliff recently wrote in his article here on Coaches Training Room called Why Coaching From The Touchline Has A Negative Impact On Soccer Players Development” this thoroughly confused the child — and I lost the coaching battle with her relative.  She immediately passed the ball – even though none of her teammates were open or in a more advanced position on the field.

At other times I’ve had parents, who were upset that their child was (allegedly) being fouled, scream at the top of their lungs to “PUSH HER BACK!!” — and I’ve had to turn around and say “Please don’t say that, that is NOT what I want them to be doing…”.  

Have you been there? Odds are, if you’ve coached more than one season, you have.  And if you haven’t…just wait, you will!

Why do I share these experiences with you?

Because, as frustrating as parents can sometime be, 99% of the time, they want what is best for their child.

The problem is, they just don’t understand what that “best” really is when it comes to playing in a game and playing as a part of YOUR team formation, YOUR philosophy and YOUR structure.

However, while that is true, it is ALSO true that the parents are nearly as important to the success of the team as the players themselves.

Recently l heard a quote from the head coach of the Seattle Sounders FC, Brian Schmetzer.  Here’s what he said,

The club is the players and their relationship to the fans. That’s the club. The players do their job on the field, the fans support the team. We…the coaching staff, the technical staff, the trainers, the equipment guys, we do our part, but the club is always just the team.  It’s the team, and the relationship that the team has with its fans.”

I love that… “The club is the players and their relationship to the fans.”

Who are YOUR team’s fans? For most coaches, the majority of your team’s fans are the parents and relatives of your players.  

In that sense, this quote from Coach Schmetzer is spot on for youth teams!

The relationship of your players and your fans (their families) is VITAL to the success of your team.  

As fun (and, at times, fulfilling) as it would be to just ignore the parents and their comments, it isn’t feasible.  

So what are we, as coaches, to do?

Most parents WANT to support and help — and they think they ARE supporting and helping.  They just don’t know the best way to help.

Because of this, it is incumbent on us, as the coaches, to OVER communicate with parents and help them understand how they can best support the team.

Here are six suggestions to help you help your parents (or fans) help the team:


When you talk with parents, help them feel like they are part of the club (because they are.).  Don’t focus on telling them what they “can’t” or “shouldn’t” do, rather focus on what they can do to contribute to the club’s success.

This could be anything from how to encourage their children at games, to taking responsibility for something — bringing snacks, getting their child to practices/games on time, making sure the pop-up cover is set up and ready for games, creating and distributing schedules, announcements, etc., maintaining the club’s Facebook page, etc.


I know what you’re thinking, I don’t have time for that! However, these meetings do NOT (and should not) be long and intensive.  Discuss the things noted in #1. A quick 15 minute at the beginning of the season will do wonders in helping your parents understand how they can support what you’re trying to do.


I had a conversation with a very successful coach this past week.  He said that one of things he did right at the beginning of the season was to give each parent a 2-page letter that outlined all of his expectations for the team.  Do you have to type up a full two pages of expectations?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  That is up to you.  However setting expectations up front will help avoid challenges later.  This applies to everything from kids arriving on time and prepared to practice to how players and parents conduct themselves during games.


I’m not saying that you have friend every one of the parents on Facebook or invite them over for BBQs every week, but you should spend time developing relationships with them — whether it’s letting them know at the end of practice how their child has improved, or telling them thank you for the sacrifices they make and the time they spend supporting their kids’ interests. By doing little things like this, parents will be more likely to support you when you need it and/or respond favorably to requests you may have.


Even after working hard to communicate up front with parents and make them part of the team, sometimes you will still have parents that do things that are detrimental — both to their child’s development and also the team’s success and development.  When you recognize that this might be happening, proactively talk to the parent.  When doing so, remember that people (soccer parents included) respond better to positivity than negativity.  Don’t start off with how they’re messing up their child for life with their behavior.  Be sure to recognize that they really care about their child’s success and that you appreciate their passion, they suggest that their dedication and passion would be better suited by doing [fill in the blank].


This one may seem like common sense, but its importance can’t be underestimated.  If you make sure that parents know that you support them in raising their children.  What do I mean?  I mean making sure that your players know that you care about more than just how many goals they score next Saturday — but that you want them to grow into good, upstanding young men or women.  Nothing will get parents on your side quicker than hearing that you are encouraging them to do well in school, listen to their parents and act with integrity.  If you coach them in life, in addition to soccer, not only will they respect and respond to you, their parents will as well.

The key with all six of these suggestions is asking for their help.  

After all, the reason that they are yelling in the first place is because they want to help their child (and the team) do better.  

They just don’t know how they can help.  

You NEED the support and buy in of your club’s fans (parents and relatives) if you are going to be successful as a coach and team.

Use these 6 tips to foster and develop your fan’s support and help — you’ll be glad you did!

What have you done to proactively involve your parents with the team?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Soccer Core Passing Pack
Mark Sieverkropp

Mark SieverkroppMark Sieverkropp is the founder of – a site dedicated to providing soccer parents with limited soccer knowledge and experience with the tools and resources they need to help their child develop as a soccer player, outside of organized teams and practices.  He has experience as a player, coach, referee, parent and association president.  If you know of a parent who would benefit from resources to help their child become a better soccer player, be sure to send them to to get their free training manual for their child!