The Rift (Part 2)

by Tony Earp, Senior Director of Programming SuperKick/TeamZone

What is Best for a Player
This is one of the easiest things for a coach and parent to work together on, but it is probably the most common thing a coach and parent dispute. The coach has a good perspective on what is best for a player in regards to their soccer development, and the parent has a good perspective on what is best for their child in regards to their total development.

I will tell parents that it is absurd for me to believe that I know their child better than they do after a couple practices or an entire season. Parents have great insight into their children that a coach can use to help decide what is best for a player on and off the soccer field.

This is an area where coaches MUST rely on information from parents to make informed decisions about how they will coach a child. There are too many things a coach will never know, unless they ask the parent, which can play a significant impact how a child learns and performs on the soccer field. Coaches will often make the costly mistake of making assumptions about a player and making decisions based on those assumptions. Before the season begins, coaches should learn about the kids by having meetings with the parents to learn more about each player. This will make the coach and the parents allies in deciding what is best for a child during the season. Coaches who choose to refuse to engage parents in these types of discussions will miss out on a very important and valuable resource to performing their job.

Communication
Often the difference in expectations between how often a coach communicates and what the coach communicates to the parents can cause conflict. Likewise, how often parents communicate and what the parents communicate to the coach can light a fire as well. Before the season begins, the coach and parents must decide on how, when, and what they will communicate between each other throughout the season.

A coach needs to set up a communication plan with the parents before the season begins. This should include email updates, team meetings, phone calls, and other ways to get information to the parents about team /individual performances and information about team events. The parents should know when the communication will happen and what type of information they will receive. On the other side, the parents need to know the best way to communicate with the coach. When is the best time to reach the coach? Should they call, e-mail, or text the coach?

The parents need to understand the boundaries of communication. What will the coach discuss? When will the coach discuss it? For example, a coach may set the expectation that he or she will never discuss another player with a parent or that a player must communicate an issue with the coach first before the parent addresses it with the coach. Some coaches ask parents to wait 24 hours before talking to them about a game.

The communication plan with the parents needs to keep them informed about what is going on with the team and make it easy to reach the coach when necessary. A communication plan that shuts parents out and limits communication is a recipe for disaster. As long as the expectations are set and clearly understood by everyone, it will keep an open line of communication between the coach and parents throughout the season. Personally, as a coach, I would rather be accused of over communicating versus under communicating during a season.

Tony Earp directs SuperKick/TeamZone Columbus’ Soccer Skills programs. Tony has a Masters in Education from The Ohio State University. Tony was a standout player both academically and athletically at The Ohio State University, earning multiple honors both on the field and in the classroom. He can be reached at tearp@superkickcolumbus.com

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