skip navigation

Parents at Practice: Should you stay or should you go?

By US Club Soccer, 10/12/17, 10:45AM EDT


Many coaches have differing opinions on whether they like or dislike having parents attend practices. Some mind, some don’t, and some are indifferent. Here are three perspectives from top youth soccer coaches:

Christian Lavers, President of Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) and Technical Director for FC Wisconsin:

  • “I want parents involved and engaged. But that being said, engaged and involved doesn’t mean hovering.”
  • “You don’t go to third grade and sit in the classroom with your child the whole time. ‘Hey, I don’t think my kid got that!’ But if there’s a problem, then you need to address it.”

John Curtis, former English Premier League player and current Technical Director for the New York Club Soccer League and Player Development Director of the New England Premiership:

  • “Drop your kid off at training, go have a Starbucks and come back and pick them up then ask the kid if he or she enjoyed herself or himself. That’s it.”
  • “I can think of many times I’m coaching and talking to (a player), and they’re not looking at me in the eye. They look at dad on the sideline. That in itself is the biggest problem. In this game, no one can help you but yourself. (The parent) cannot help them. The way you help them is by abandoning them and leaving them on their own. Only by leaving them on their own will they grow.”
  • “It goes against nature. Yo want to help your child. But in reality, the only way you can help them is by abandoning them to the coach, to the team, to the game.”

Eddie Henderson, former player for the U-17 and U-23 U.S. Soccer national teams and current Technical Director for the ISC Gunners:

  • “In any business, you have to show transparency. Parents are inquisitive, and they are curious. Is this (club) the right fit? Is this coach the right coach? I don’t mind parents coming to practice, but there are certain areas they need to be.”
  • “What I found is, the better job you do, the less parents you have at training. Maybe that’s out of trust. Maybe I’m just fortunate, but I don’t have helicopter parents who hover around.”

Henderson laughs as he recalls a situation with parents at a different club. At training, he was full of energy, constantly providing information and interacting with the players. But in the game, he would mostly sit, and not voice much, except a few tactical changes.

“I did this for three games in a row. Then, the parents called a meeting,” Henderson recalls. “‘We love your training (sessions). They are awesome. But in games, we want you to be more interactive and coach.’”

Henderson says he told the parents that he does his coaching during training.

“When I get to the game, there’s not enough time for me to bark instructions or play like a joystick with the team and get each player to do what they need to, on a minute-to-minute, situation-to-situation basis,” Henderson says. “I have to use practice time to prepare them. You have to have players who can solve problems on the field, not players who listen to audible cues from the coach.”

The higher the level, Henderson says, the faster the game moves and the more players must make split-second decisions to adjust.

What is CFC Academy Policy?

In general, we believe it is best for young players to focus on their coach and teammates without the distraction of spectators at a training session. While the club does not ban parents from attending practice we do ask that they remain at least 50 feet from the field.

Chattanooga FC Academy is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that seeks to share relevant soccer information with its members on this site. All articles that are republished here will include attribution and a link to the original source for the full story. If you are a content owner and object to its use on this site as described, email us for immediate removal.