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The Fog of Complacency: A Call to Action for Youth Sports Coaches

September 14, 2023 | Coach, Coach | by Skye Eddy

Complacency is comfortable and excuses are easy. 

We all know this. 

And, we all know that when we choose to get out of our comfort zone and diligently focus – great things happen.

Sometimes I am standing at the front of a room full of coaches leading a coach education event for Soccer Parenting, and complacency is wafting around the room. In those moments, when I observe the faces of some of the coaches I am working with, I see drifty, blank looks mired with excuses.

“All parents are crazy.”  “This will never work.”  “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” “I tried that already.”  There are times when the soft hum of excessive excuses is like a heavy fog over the room.

As a coach educator these are the moments I have grown to love. This is where, if I push back strategically against the doubt, complacency, excuses, and beliefs of the coaches – and find a way to establish trust, connect and inspire them - my messages about parent engagement and community can have tremendous impact.

If I can help them arrive to a place where they are open to rethinking the negative narrative they have come to believe about parents - and help them begin to understand and accept our Soccer Parenting Belief Statements – these coaches will become a force multiplier of positive culture change in youth soccer.

Our Soccer Parenting Belief Statements:

  • Collaborative relationships, with appropriate boundaries, between coaches and parents is in the best interest of player development.
  • Parents will be difference makers when it comes to improving the game.
  • When parents seek information about how to best support their soccer playing child, great things will happen.
  • A strong and supportive community of level-headed and like-minded coaches and parents will inspire players.

A few weeks ago, I was in Charleston, South Carolina for a coach education event with James Island Youth Soccer Club. While they were extremely receptive to my messages and genuinely eager to learn more about how they could take advantage of their club partnership with Soccer Parenting, a coach in the back of the room had some doubts. Less than ten minutes into my presentation he interrupted me and started talking to the group about how he’s tried to engage with parents, and it doesn’t work.  “It’s best to keep the wall up,” he said, “be firm with parents, and make sure you don’t give them a voice.”

As he was speaking my mind started racing. It was obvious the coach believed every word he was saying, likely fueled by negative experiences with parents over the years. I let him finish. My defensiveness turned to compassion and any glimpse of self-doubt I had due to his interruption, shifted within me to a strong clarity of purpose. The coach provided me with just the moment I needed to go a bit deeper with the coaches in the room and get to the good stuff…where the learning, growth and change happens.

Complacency, after all, is comfortable and excuses are easy.

It was time to get to work. The energy in the room was building and the coaches were eager to learn more and change. The next 50 minutes was magic.

This story has played out hundreds of times over the years.  In fact, when I first started Soccer Parenting over 10 years ago and began to talk about trust in the coach-parent relationship – most coaches thought I was crazy!  Coaches at Conventions would offer to buy me a drink because I was “Taking on the parents” and SO MANY coaches would tell me the joke “My favorite team is a team full of orphans.” The disdain and disapproval was heavy. Fortunately, it made my resolve stronger – it literally fueled the flame: youth soccer is not working.

Parent Engagement and Establishing Community is a solution.

Coaching is a privilege. When done right, the influence coaches can have with players, families and communities is tremendous. Establishing a Sense of Community on your team is not rocket science, but it does require some intentionality….and a desire on the part of the coach to learn, rethink old narratives and lead. Our Parent Engagement for Youth Sports Coaches Course was created for coaches who want to learn more. The course gives coaches everything you need for a successful season included parent meeting downloads, a program to focus on improving sideline behavior, guidance on parent engagement principles, the latest research on establishing a sense of community, and even access to live office hours with me once a month.

We need coaches who are themselves willing to reflect, learn, and grow influencing our young players.  Are you one of those coaches?

The Parent Engagement for Youth Sports Coaches Course is for you if:

  • You want to have clearer purpose as a coach.
  • You want to have greater impact on players and families.
  • You are curious about parent engagement and community.
  • You are willing to spend an hour of your time to learn and grow.
  • You are willing to reflect.
  • You want to build a strong sense of community on your teams.
  • You want kids to love the game.

My time in Charleston with James Island Soccer Club ended on the highest note possible. After my Coach Education event during the day, I spoke to the parents in the club in the evening. The club orchestrated an incredible community event – a family festival of food trucks, pick up soccer, bounce houses, picture taking – all centered around a quick public Board meeting.

Kids were running around everywhere, parents were introducing themselves, soccer balls were flying, and the music was in full force. At one point, the DJ gave me the mic and I delivered a short message to parents about how they can be an inspiring and empowering soccer parent for their child. 

In the midst of the beautiful chaos of community, my coaching friend from the back of the room walked up to me and said:

 “You’re right. This is going to be the Year of Community at our club.”

Mission accomplished!  He changed! I couldn’t help but smile. He understands the Soccer Parenting Belief Statements and he is going to be a force multiplier of positive culture change.

He also had a big smile on his face,

“I already have changed. I’ve been introducing myself and chatting with parents all evening, and they genuinely want to talk to me!”

Yes, I thought – of course they do. If there is one thing I know for sure – we crave connection. Parents want to know and trust the coaches influencing their child. We all: coaches, parents, club leaders, referees, volunteers – we all want to feel a heightened sense of community.

Well intentioned and educated coaches with an open mind for change can influence and create community.

Community Matters!

The Parent Engagement for Youth Sports Coaches 60 minute course is now available at an introductory rate of $44.00. Learn more HERE.  Bulk purchasing by clubs is available. If you are a volunteer coach and this cost is sincerely prohibitive to you, email us HERE and we will provide you a complimentary link to the course. 

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We are one step closer to developing a more positive youth sports culture thanks to your interest:

Skye Eddy

Founder, The Sideline Project and Soccer Parenting. Skye is a career coach, sought after coach and parent educator, former All-America, professional, collegiate and State Champion athlete, and sports parent. Skye is a regular guest on podcasts and radio shows, and her work has been sighted in multiple national publications and books.

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