Kids 8: Parents

Parents can be a tricky one. I mean, It’s their kids you’re coaching!

But you are the coach.

In your first year, 90% chance you will have assistant coaches or parents or one and the same, talking over you, stopping the group, trying to coach. Senior coach, they have a bit more respect. Juniors, it’s open slather.

In my first year at one club, quarter time I went to call my on-ball brigade in and saw every one of them to the side of the main group, being given instructions by one of the parents/ex-coaches. Who knows what he was telling them? How far off our game plan it was. Jesus!

You’ve got to stamp that shit out early.

Sorry, footy is Alpha. For the most part, you need the one voice. And the one voice should put pride aside and have many ears.

One of the very best coaches I had was just okay at the start, but he let himself be surrounded by footy brains, and took from them, within his plan. And was the voice. And remained the leader. He didn’t let anyone else coach through him. Took it all in and filtered. In the end he didn’t need the voices. He stood alone.

That time the parent nicked my entire on-ball division during the break, I pulled the team in, parents everywhere, listening, and for my address said, “Football is a team game. To play as a team you have to have one plan, one vision. The team comes first. Not you, not your parents. Unity comes first. I’m an open-minded bloke. I love advice! I can’t see everything, and value other eyes. Anyone is welcome to whisper in my ear… But it has to come through me. What they tell you either side of the game, good on them, but during the game… If ANYONE comes up to you during the game trying to tell you what to do, ANYONE, point to me! Say ‘Tell him.’”

I only had to say it once. Sometimes, one of the more insistent parents, I’d ask him his advice before he said anything. Often it was good advice. He’s a smart man. I made some of his moves, not others. But from then on he came through me.

Sort it early. Then get on with the fun of football. Early is the key.



To read all of Matt Zurbo’s Kids and Coaching series CLICK HERE


  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Old dog just so true the worst ones are the parents who belittle and harass there own kids and try to live there own career failings and drive there kids to levels well beyond there capabilities.We have all come across parents who mean well but stuff there own kids up.The approach you describe above is the only way it can work and is probably the most important advice which can be given to a junior coach

  2. Cheers Rulebook! Once again we agree!!

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