6 Reasons Parents Should NOT Watch Practice

The idea for this article struck me as I sat in my car after dropping off a carpool of girls to practice last week. I was scheduled to drive the carpool both ways and it made sense to stay at the fields for practice as the fields were 30 minutes from my house.

As I sat in my car at the sports complex that includes 12 turf fields – I was witness to a long stream of players and parents marching off to training. It is a big complex and I understood that parents of the young players wanted to be sure their child made it to the proper field, so an escort to training was in order. However, when I started noticing parents walking with older players, and parents carrying blankets to keep warm and one even carrying a portable heater – it struck me that many of these parents were planning on hanging out on the sidelines to watch practice.

I know how rewarding it can be to watch your child practice and improve. As I watched from my car, the anticipation and excitement of many of the fast-walking parents as they herded their players along was nearly palpable, as I have felt it before.

Up until this year, for the past 3 years, I had attended just about every single one of my daughter’s practices. I wasn’t on the sidelines watching, I was on an adjacent field coaching and only periodically involved with her training. While my attention was obviously on the players I was working with, I couldn’t help but steal a glance in the direction of my daughter at a water break and I will even admit a time or two when the water break was extended for an extra 30 seconds or so, in order for me to watch her on the ball.

I loved watching her practice.

I loved watching her practice because of how it made me feel….Never really taking into account how my presence in her team environment made her feel.

Now, after 6 months of not being at the fields for her practices, I clearly see the benefits of my distance.

6 Reasons Parents Should NOT Watch Practice

 1. A parent’s role in their child’s sports endeavor is to be supportive

(listen to this SoccerParenting.com interview with Sport Psychologist Dan Abrahams about a parent’s role) When parents watch practices – it can lead to comments outside of this supportive and encouraging role. We find ourselves saying things such as “You should pay better attention to the coach when they are talking.” or “You kept passing to the other team, you need to be more focused.” or “I sure wish you would try harder.” When we watch practices, we open the door to talking about a part of our child’s sport experience we should not be talking about.

2. Sometimes it’s better not to know.

It’s better not to know if our child isn’t paying attention, or if our child is struggling with the speed of play and giving the ball away, or if our child is not working as hard as we know they can. It’s better not to know because when we do know these things, the stress creeps in.What our child needs to receive from us is our support, not our stress. They need to know that we believe in their ability to be their best. When our child feels our stress, they hear “You should have done better” instead of “I believe in your ability to be your best.”

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3. When we watch practices, there is a clear shift in the dynamic between our child and their team and coach.

After all, as parents, we are the most authoritative figure in our child’s life. Naturally, they will feel different when we are watching practices. We limit our child’s ability to be a teammate when we insert ourselves into their team dynamic, even if it is from the bleachers or from a distance.

4. Being a teammate is an honor and a responsibility.

Our children must learn to play for their teammates and their coach, not for us. When we are in attendance, they are naturally playing for us – to show off to us, to win our approval. We need to allow our children to concentrate not on winning our approval, rather on winning the approval of their teammates and coaches through their personal level of commitment (see 5, below).

5. Our child’s commitment to their team needs to be a decision they make, it can’t be anything we try to facilitate.

If we are involved in this decision, our children will eventually burn out or lose interest. If we want to support our children as they develop an identity as an athlete and team member, we must allow their commitment to their team to come from within them. When we are too involved, we hamper this development.

6. Parents should have better things to do than watching practice.

If we put our children front and center in our lives, to the point that we are bringing heaters out to training so WE can stay warm and watch, like I witnessed the other night, we are putting too much pressure on the them. We are quietly telling them that our happiness, in some way, depends on their performance. That’s too much pressure. Our happiness should depend on us – on the walk or run we could take, on the book we could read, on the other things we could accomplish in the hour and a half of their training.

When the girls got back into the car the other night I announced my idea for this article and was met with a resounding “That’s a great idea!” I found this quick response interesting because while the girls in the carpool have parents that may watch the last 10 minutes of training before picking them up (I do this as well), their parents are certainly not watching for the duration of the training.

Interestingly, what the girls then mentioned were the players they have played with over the years who had parents who attended training regularly. They were keenly aware of the parents who came to training,  even mentioning a few of them by name.  They said they felt sorry for those players.

“Why do you feel sorry for them?” I asked.

“They must have felt so much pressure” was the response.

I suppose I wouldn’t want my boss going with me on all of my appointments with clients, or the coaching director watching every single one of my training sessions.

I am sure you wouldn't either.

  • I’m sad that this is the state of things. If I follow this advice, soon you’ll be encouraging me not to go to games or show any interest in the sport. Next you’ll want me to move out of the house altogether.

    I have kids and I want to support them. I encourage them in whatever they show interest in.

    I would love to see more advice about what expectations and pressure looks like (and feel like to kids) and what encouragement and genuine interest looks like (and feels like to kids). This would be considerably more helpful.

    • Hi Paul.

      SoccerParenting.com and the article are geared towards elite players where there are professional (paid) coaches and a different environment than recreation. While I do believe much of this article and site applies to all soccer players, I certainly understand – as my son plays recreation and I have coached him many seasons – that there is a significant difference in environment between the two.

      Check out the interviews with Dan Abrahams about How Parents Can Support Their Children and read the articles from Dr. Elizabeth Vantre about pressure kids feel after a game in which they don’t perform to their expectations. I also think the interview with Sam Snow will provide you with excellent information on the areas you mentioned.

    • I absolutely agree with you Paul. As a coach I’ve never had any issue with parents attending practices. In fact, kids with parents who are highly involved (there are lines, of course) are almost always the superior performers. My daughter has always appreciated, valued and wanted me at her practices.

  • Although I do agree with some of the premise of this article, I was one who very rarely had my parents come to any practices or games. I wished they would have shown a little more interest by attending some practices and games. Here is some more good information that was written by one of my best friends and teammate growing up. http://Www.thecarridehome.com this book is very insightful in the role parents can play in their child’s athletic endevours.

    • Thanks D,

      Of course you know my intention with the article was never to encourage parents not to be involved or engaged, but to start a discussion about how and when that engagement best supports our children.

      Thanks for the book suggestion, I’ll check it out!

    • Great book! It is a quick read and addresses the quality of interactions.

      I don’t agree with absolutes that are now so common in articles about parents, players, and coaches. My family rately was able to see me play or train, and I was always hungry for their support. My sons liked knowing I was there on the sidelines regardless of the weather or the competition level. (I never brought a heater, rather, I got good cold and wet weather gear.) My role was support of my sons, their teammates, and their coaches through my consistent presence. I’m not very vocal on the sidelines or in the car.

      So for me, it isn’t an absolute about whether or not parents should attend practice. It is about intent and the quality of the support and interactions. Attendance can be a very good thing.

  • I do agree with this at a certain age parents should give more independence and we all should let them develop as a player/teammate. However with my 9 yr old Academy player and the lay out of our huge soccer complex with one bathroom, my husband and I would rather have an adult available for when these players have ‘to go’ or lightening halts practice early. They simply don’t need to be left on their on at this age with no cell phones or person to go to. As team Manager Ive sat with boys until their parents arrive and it can take up to an hour. Ive needed to phone them regarding the early halt of practice. Their is no security at our fields and a 21 yr old coach who can’t be with 11 boys at once. I wish the author had thought about all the realms this affects before generalizing a bit. Perhaps she meant it for the select above U12 group. I’d agree with that more so but I doubt I’d leave the complex completely without someone for him to go to if it rains out or lightening calls practice. Standing alone in the dark (it could happen-has happened with others) waiting for his ride doesn’t sit well. I believe don’t hover – stand back but safety comes first.

  • You are putting every parent/player in one category. Every relationship is different, not everyone puts pressure on their kids. Some just want to show support and have dialog with their kids. Tired of articles saying, get involve with your kids, leave your kids alone, monitor them, don’t monitor them. Some times sports is the one thing parents and their kids can connect on. Who are you to claim anyones presence is hurting them? Your kid may feel sorry for the players on her team who’s parents watch because they may be nuts. Some of us are actually sane, and supportive. My parents never came to anything and I wish they did.

    • Judy,

      I couldn’t agree with your sentiment that every relationship is different and additionally – certainly as parents we know – that every child brings a unique mindset to the situation. I talk a lot about Crazy Soccer Parents in my various blog posts and interviews. In fact, there is an entire interview with Sarah Kate Noftsinger, commissioner of the ECNL, talking about Crazy Soccer Parents….At one point in my article about the Communication Divide Between Parents and Coaches I say, “Crazy Soccer Parents Ruin It for the Non-Crazies!”

      That being said, I didn’t write this article with the audience being just the Crazy Soccer Parents…..I wrote the article to start a discussion and to encourage people to evaluate their unique situations based on their unique children….I am happy to see the discussion unfolding and the evaluations happening.

      I love the connections I have with my children, and my friends, and my family through soccer…Personally, my daughter never once complained about me being on the fields for her training these past few years. We have a great relationship! That being said, it’s been insightful for me to see how her relationship with the game has changed since I removed myself from the situation. Has it been 100% because I am no longer on the field with her? Of course not, she’s matured, her team dynamics have evolved, she has a different coach…but I do think me not being there every night has played a part in her individual development as a teammate and competitor.

      Here’s to the Non-Crazies! Glad you are one of them!!!

  • Every relationship is different, and the one I have with my 13 year old daughter right now could not be better!

    My daughter is an Elite U13 soccer player, she plays at the highest level in Premeir, and pre-ECNL. I stay for every practice, and if I actually stay in the car, she asks me why I did not watch.
    I find the quote “When parents watch practices – it leads to comments outside of this role. We find ourselves saying things such as “You should pay better attention to the coach when they are talking” or “You kept passing to the other team, you need to be more focused” or “I sure wish you would try harder” to be really pushing the limits of advice.

    Our first responsibility is to prepare our children for adulthood and one of the first things I noticed when she started playing, is that when the coach was speaking, her eyes were wandering. We had a conversation about this, and I told her that she should always be focused on what the coach is saying, to make direct eye contact with the coach while they are talking. This is true in every aspect of life, not just on the playing field, it is about respect. There are winners and losers in life, just like in athletics, and to treat this fact as otherwise is just not preparing your kid for what lies ahead. I give advice when I think it is necessary, or more often than not, asked by my daughter. Not all parents put their kids in a sports pressure cooker, sometime the kids actually want to be in that pressure cooker. My daughter, for instance, wants a focused, hard practice, wants to play with, and against the best players she can, every time, all the time, that is just how she is wired. I see nothing wrong with that. My daughter does not play for me when I am there watching her games, she is 100% playing for her and her team. This may not be the case when the child firsts starts playing, but if and when the child becomes serious about the sport, this should be the case, and if someone says that it is not, then it sounds like there is a problem there between that parent and child, and something is being missed in the parenting aspect between them.

    My daughter loves everything about soccer and the competition! She is the hardest working player in practice and in games, and she has surpassed those girls who have been playing twice as long as her, through hard work, with a little help from dad, who gives up his free time to take her to practice 4 days a week, who takes her all over the southeast every weekend to play against the best competition. I do this because she is my daughter and this is what she loves and wants to do. She came to me wanting to play, and I have never forced her, for one second to do anything she has not wanted to do concerning soccer.

    Some might find this hard to believe, but some parents do want what is best for their kids, and yes I do love watching her excel on the soccer field. I would just like parents who read this article to know it is also ok if your child wants you involved in their soccer, or anything else they do. Am I now living vicariously through my daughter, heck no, but I am enjoying every second of her WANTING me to be a part of it every step along the way. I wouldn’t change anything I have done through four years of soccer so far, and more importantly…..I can say without a shadow of a doubt, neither would my daughter! And that is all that really matters……and if she asks me to step aside for a while, or not be as involved, I would do that in a heart beat.

    • Travis….see my comments to Judy above…

      Non-Crazy Soccer Parents Unite!

      In fact, that was one of the names I was considering for the title of this entire Blog/Website.

      I hope to meet you on the ECNL game sidelines one day! My daughter is just a year ahead so we’ll be at some events together, for sure.

  • Great article Skye. I can see why some parents become defensive. They have not had their girls hit the independent stage of the teen years. Up until that time, you are a big part of their soccer. Once they make up their mind that, “I got this mom and dad” then you need to give them their space and room. You have to let the game become theirs and your job is to be a fan in the stands. Unfortunately for some parents, the teen years also come at the same time that they begin to separate themselves from the other players. The parent is so excited to see their child excel and become one of the top players in the area. Sometimes that excitement leads to the parent thinking they are the agent or guidance counselor for their child.

    Nobody is offering your child a contract. This is not European soccer where kids are getting pro offers at 16. Even if your child is a prodigy, they can only commit to a college before their Junior year. They can’t sign the NLI. So the 14-17 playing years is a great time to allow your child the independence to discover what they love about the game and take accountability and responsibility for their play.

    One thing I discovered about not hanging around the fields is that I now see my daughter’s game through her eyes. When she comes to the car after practice, we have a great discussion about practice. I am hearing how things went through her words and can address her joy, sorrow, anger or humor by addressing her, not by trying to dissect her play from the sidelines. I will say that our relationship as father and daughter has grown closer because I allowed her to become her own player. She knows I am there for her regardless of what happens on the field. I don’t make a big deal of her play because she no longer makes a big deal about her play. She has developed her own love of the game of which I am a spectator, not a participant.

    The other day she did a project for school where she did a diagram of her life. In the circle where quadrants for family, friends, school and soccer. In the soccer section was an exit sign. When I asked her about it she said, “Soccer allows me to exit my world and just focus on the game. For 90 minutes I don’t have to worry about what I look like or any of that other stuff. I just get to be in my own world.”
    That, my friends, is reason enough for me to not hang out during practice.

    • Jeff,

      I love your comment about seeing the game through your child’s eyes. I hadn’t put that thought into words before, but I completely have enjoyed that as well!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      • Sky,

        “Seen the beauty of football through a kid’s eyes.” Its a positive experience for any parent, any soccer fan, any coach. Their eyes are the best eyes to see the art and skill of football. The problem we have in our premature US soccer culture is when parent’s support unplugged their kids to focus on the game through their experience, dreams and end up blinding an entire youth soccer community and the kid’s eyes to not see and appreciate the art and skill of football. There’s the (1) good, (2) bad, (3) ugly, and (4) know it all parent that not only blocked youth soccer development learning phases in our soccer communities but also tries to manipulate other parents to see the beauty of the game through his eyes and at one point end up controlling the majority of the parents in the community taking soccer kids into chaos. When this happens kids no longer appreciate and enjoyed playing the game.

        The reward comes when parents support their kids and appreciation the long three learning development process (1) cognitive , (2) associative, and (3) cognitive. The problem is when the Know it all (4) parent ego wants to win and tries to cheat any of these learning development phases NOT caring for the less skill youth players who need time to develop or are rushed to cheated the skill development phases. At the boys and men’s level this is a serious problem we have in US Soccer. Parents (4) want to win and end up rushing their kids to failed at a higher levels.

        The skill signs of the great footballer CAN NOT be seen through the parents eyes. Because parents didn’t lived a lionel Messi or Mia hamm experience and the (4) know it all parent pushing kids and parents to see the art and skill of football through his/her eyes is from my perspective the most damaging experience any child can have in US Youth Soccer.

        We the parents, coaches, fans must learned to just let the kids play from a safe distance in practice allowing kids to appreciate and learn to love the game. I think parents attendance in practice, games, meetings, tournament championship celebrations, awards , and carpooling them home is the best way to see soccer growing in our country as long as parmets understand they are not the coach an learn to respect their kids coach in practice, games, their kids opponents, and rules.

  • As a soccer parent, this article has done what it set out to do, start up a conversation and bring up some distinct points on how parents of select soccer players affect their kids and the way they can play. My son, who plays on a select team and is 10, read and listened to article and stated that he likes it when I come to practices (partially because his brother and sister may need me to do something during his regular games or practices). This article made me take a moment to stop and think, am I being the supportive parent he needs. What happens when he no longer wants me to come to practice or to his games? Before the teenage years I think the more time you can spend with your kids the better and they look for you for encouragement, not always advice or discipline. The younger kids want to know they are doing the right thing. It is very easy for the older kids to be dropped off and left to their own devices, if you don’t have a strong relationship with your child to begin with, not staying to watch practice may backfire or fuel the animosity they feel toward you. I for one would like to make sure I know where I stand in my child’s life but make sure I give them the distance they need to develop themselves and their skills. It is very hard to watch and very hard to keep your distance but necessary.

    • Conversation Started – Stopping and Thinking – Evaluating Your Situation – MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

      I think a child’s age, their mindset, the team environment, the coach and definitely the level at which they participate in soccer are all items to consider when thinking about this topic.

      Thanks so much for joining the conversation, Erin!

  • I appreciate this article. I think sine are being a little too critical and not seeing the general idea of it all. My son is starting soccer for the first time, his dad or a friend will be taking him to practice. He is 9, and needs a chance to gain more independence. Besides I have 4 kids to divide my time and can’t be at all practices for everyone. I also like the element of surprise! In most dance studios they already encourage parents to not stay and don’t allow parents in the room. I teach in 2 different environments, 1 where parents are and one where they aren’t in the room. Guess which child does better? They need to learn to respect other authority without the parent there to push it.
    Now I get that dance is inside, not outside and that there can be a bathroom issue, but that’s where I would suggest a rotation of team parents to help with that. Like you said, you wait in the car. Just because a parent doesn’t stand on the sideline, doesn’t mean they have to leave the property, sit in the car and read, take a nap or a walk, talk on the phone. The possibilities are endless.

  • I 100% agree with this. I of course stayed sideline for every practice when my son was doing 4 & 5 year old soccer. You just had to, crying fits, BooBoos, separation anxiety, no coach could handle that alone. We’d get to the car after practice and he was looking for validation. “How did I do mommy?” “Was that a great kick?” and of course since it’s the age to build confidence so I built him up to give him the courage to try it again next week. “Oh my you ran so fast!” Then moving on to 6 & 7 years old, I started paying less attention. As he grew older and older he still wanted that validation from me at the end of practice. I don’t want to be the bad guy and say you lacked effort or played for crap, but I didn’t want to lie either. So I stopped paying attention. I told him I wanted the games to be a surprise with all his practice, hard work and new skills he mastered.

    My husband often meets us at practice on his way home from work. We take the time to connect and go for a walk together around the park. Sometimes sneaking in a quick glance over at the field, where our son doesn’t know we peeked. This is our son’s time to do something he enjoys for himself and we are using the time to have calm, peaceful husband and wife bonding time. This way our son knows we are there if he needs us but are giving him all the space he needs to enjoy himself. Honestly it takes the pressure off US by not watching. I cannot imagine having to evaluate every practice with my kid. That would totally SUCK. I just want to be the cheerleader, the supporter I don’t want to have to give my kid any bad news if I can avoid it. And thankfully this is the coaches job not mine. Plus it’s a great ride home hearing what HE thought about practice. Him telling me what happened and how he thought things went. I just get to sit and listen to him speak to something he is really passionate about and enjoy the excitement with the game.

    I do sit through every game. I refuse to miss one. My parents *maybe* attended 2 games my entire life and I realize how much THEY missed out on. Watching games is more for me, for my enjoyment than it is for my son. He’s so into the game he could careless about who is or is not on the sideline (unless it’s a really cute girl). I admit it, I catch myself after some games saying things other than ‘I love watching you play’. Where’s the magic wand to turn off giving steering and direction to your kids. It is HARD! I’m working at it and trying to get better.

    So with my long winded response. You hit the nail on the head with this post!! Don’t suck the fun out the game for your kids by inserting yourself. Back off a pinch, parents will be surprised with how much your kids keep you in the loop and involved on their own doing without you deploying the video drone (YUP! Someone has actually done this…SURREAL!).

  • I am a youth soccer coach, high school specifically. This article bothered me because it casts a broad blanket over an issue that is not applicable in many cases. I read the comments, and the author suggests that the article was directed at high level academy players. If that is the case, say so at the outset. As a parent and a coach, I understand the desire of parents to be present and “available” for their children in today’s world of child-abusing coaches, teachers, clergy, and strangers. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a crazy world and I’ll be damned if I take the advice of a “credentialed sports expert” over the safety of my child. I am not a crazy soccer parent, not even in the slightest, perhaps due to my experiences as a coach. I will always support my children in their endeavors, and if that means I’m at their practices to ensure they are safe and cared for properly, then that’s what it will be.

    • A sensible man and my new hero. How about the last reason she said: parents should have something better to do. Really!

  • Skye, I’m late reading this article but saw it posted on Facebook by Arlington Elite Volleyball Club and loved it. I re-posted it on my Facebook page, and there was immediate discussion and praise for it. I only ran track in high school and tinkered in a few sports in elementary school so this world is new to me. I completely relate to the “crazy parent” thing and have had to try to keep myself from becoming one just by being in the midst of some of it. My kids play travel soccer and travel volleyball, and I have witnessed intensities in the travel sport world that sadden me. I have to learn to not let it affect me as it isn’t about me. I tell my middle school daughter who loves playing on a travel soccer team and knows I love watching her play in games that if she ever wants to stop playing soccer, she can finish out the particular season commitment, and I won’t look back. I try to encourage my kids, wherever possible, but this does not involve watching practices or being a helicopter parent. For whom is that really? If a child expresses that she wants a parent at practices, as well as games, why is that, from her perspective? Perhaps s/he likes attention from the parent, and there is nothing wrong with that. There are so many ways to support and encourage our kids which can translate in how they handle themselves in a sport. While some express that they would have liked it if their parents were at sports events, perhaps games would have been sufficient. Where it was noted that children of parents who are highly involved are almost always superior performers themselves, it may not be because those parents were at practices but because of other things. I don’t see that correlation in my kids’ travel sports, but I do see kids starting to feel the pressure, more obviously by crying often on the field, frequently pushing other kids when they lose the ball, bragging excessively, and inappropriately blaming others for losses. I could easily make an argument that a number of those kids’ parents are watching a lot of their practices. I also like these parents, and no one is saying they are insane or bad people. We all care tremendously for our kids and just want what is best for them. Thanks for your article.

  • I think as a parent by staying around you can see if your kid wants to be there or not .could tell you why your kid is not getting playing time

  • Interesting article. I’m pretty pleased to say that I have never made a comment about my nephew’s performance at practice. I often watch practice mainly because I enjoy seeing how the team is developing more than just watching my nephew. I stick around because I really find it relaxing and I talk to some of the other parents sometimes.
    For every reason you gave in the article I didn’t think that any of them rang true for me. Obviously I was open to the idea of hearing good reasons that I shouldn’t watch practice or I wouldn’t have read the article.

  • I disagree strongly with this article and here is why based on my experiences with club soccer.

    1.) Bullying is a big problem. I have witnessed this happen on more than one occasion over the years. In one instance it actually destroyed a kids love of the game and he quit all together. You might give the excuse that the coach should have stopped this. That is not the case, especially when it is the “star” player doing the bullying. They all of the sudden suffer from blindness. The one thing all these cases had in common was the parents of these children were not there! I would think that this type of behavior would have been severely minimized if the parents were there. It would have at least saved one kid’s love of the game. Usually it is not one kid that does the bullying, if they sense weakness, then followers of the bully help the situation get worse. Relying on the club or the coach to stop this is laughable.

    2.) Monitoring your investment. Club soccer is not cheap. One can easily fork over $2,000 plus for their kid to play. So, it is important that you get what you pay for. I have experienced piss poor coaching in past years. I have experienced coaches goofing off with other coaches while the kids practiced. Their attention was not on coaching, but on playing around or looking at their cell phone every 5 seconds. When you pay that kind of money, one would expect that the coaching is done in a professional way. How do you know if you are not there to watch this? It is stupid not to monitor your investment. Not being there is one of the dumbest things one can do!

    3.) Not watching your kids play at practice is missing out on all the progress your kid is making. I can just see the car ride coming home when your son or daughter says something like, ” I scored a great goal”, “I made this great move”, or “I made a great pass”. Guess what? You as the parent were not there to witness it because someone told you that you had better things to do. When your kid says, “Dad! You should have been there. I megged a kid, and faked out two other, and I scored a wicked goal!” But hey, you had better things to do right? It is moments like that you will never get back. Screw the experts! Go with your natural instincts as a parent.

  • WOW!!! I maybe the only one that agrees with this post. I think it depends as well of the player , mine has been playing futbol since pre-k , so yes the first years we did coach & watched her , she now plays travel soccer D1, extremely competitive, she is a started but when not performing she goes to the bench , so we don’t watch her practice , it has been years of doing so & she appreciates the trust , we believe that she is doing her absolutely best & we trust the coach. She has told me several times to please don’t be one of “those” parents , my happier is when I watch her practice and at soccer games , then I do it for her & well because yes I have always something to do . My youngest was a gymnast , she competed for years , and used to practice for 3-4 hours 4-5 times a week! She did asked for us not to stay at the gym , she felt very pressured, that was hard for me as gymnastics is my favorite sport . But again I do trust my girls , I know they are doing their best . Every kid is different, every family has their own dynamic at the end we as parents know what’s best for our kiddos .

  • While I can agree with parts of this article, for the most part, I see it as an over generalized lump of one-size-fits-all advice.

    My daughter just turned 14 and has played club volleyball for 3 years. When she played for a club close to home I would drop her off and run errands until about the last 30 minutes. In inclement weather, I’d fire up my laptop and work at the gym. Now that she plays at a premier club farther away, I sit an watch during the winter and maybe run a few errands when the weather is more predictable.

    I don’t involve myself in her practice but I do take note of areas that she struggles with. Why? Because I foot the bill for her off season practices and I’m all about getting bang for my buck. I’m not going to throw $50 at a coach and expect him to figure out what she needs to work on, I going to search for a coach that can address a specific skill deficiency ( I coach volleyball, so I can see those pretty clearly) so that all of my money goes towards making her a better player and she feels she got something out of her lessons.

    I don’t discuss her deficiencies on the car ride home; she has a great coach who guides her in that respect. Sometimes we talk about her growth, most times not so much. One thing I do notice is that when she does something awesome on the court she asks me if I saw it during her water break.

    I grew up with parents who couldn’t attend ANY of my events, let alone practices and I know how that felt. Attending her practices and games allows me to 1) assess where she’s at and determine where she needs off season skills training, 2) ascertain how much she’s getting out of her training, 3) be nearby in case of emergency (just last weekend, we had a girl roll her ankle and another mother and so were the only ones there, besides the coach. Instead of stopping practice to take care of her, the coach was able to hand her off to the mom brigade and continue with practice for the other 9 girls), 4) endure that my kid has a ride home, we had a parent who was involved in a snow-related car accident shortly after dropping his kid off. You want to see a kid in distress? Let a parent not show up to pick her up. 5) because my kids practices are at 8pm and 40 minutes away from home)

    Yes, there are crazy parent out there, but I think that rather than offering generic one-size advice to everyone, a little more effort be put into pinpointing the true problem areas. How about a discussion on HOW to effectively watch a practice? Alternatives to watching practices that also put a parent’s mind at ease about leaving their children without parental supervision? Don’t lump us all, we don’t deserve that. Some of us are adults who were once kids who could only wish our parents could afford to be interested in our sports indeavors beyond filling out requisite paperwork and waivers.

  • This is by far the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. I’m not sure how things function with your team or teams. But a group of parents sitting together and talking building relationships and watching here and there. That’s what it’s all about. There is more to an Elite team then just the players and coaches. The parents are on every trip and event every weekend all across the country. The players bond with the parents as well.
    That’s when you have an Elite team.
    However I don’t think the parents should attempt to coach or talk with them during training, unless it’s an emergency situation. But nobody in there right mind would drive 30-45 min to a practice and then go stand with your nose in the corner. If your particular situation is effecting your child then I guess take a hike. But if you being around makes them uncomfortable then how are they gonna feel at a game?? Either work on your relationship or give up Soccer. Because that’s usually a red flag that they really don’t wanna be there. I could give you 10 Reasons every parent should watch there kids practice. Obviously not talking HS Sports. But Club and your gonna spend the time going there waiting and then coming home you might as well make it something positive. I’ve always had other parents with because of the same reasons. And we as parents bond and that trickles down to the kids as well.

  • I don’t agree with this one bit. The problem with this type of view is too much protecting our kids from the normal things in life. If they are stressed from a parent watching then there must be something deeper going on. Kids are getting more & more stressed by parents allowing themselves to tip toe around & avoid anything that makes them slightly uncomfortable.

    Overall many kids are getting too stressed out in games period. The sense of having fun & doing your best is getting more & more lost while parents & coaches are taking it too far with putting pressure on the kids. While that does exist, kids need to be able to take a helpful tips to improve if they really want to do better. Protect them for that & you are setting them to shy away from other situations in the future that require an audience.

    Parents imvolvement in practicing sports with their child is usually why a child becomes more skilled in a particular sport or activity. Now we are not allowed to watch them practice so it doesn’t stress them out? Ironically this type of thinking is part of the big problem now days.

  • I don’t know about this. I stay at 14 year olds practice cause its so far away. Most the time I’m doing something else. Playing football with my son or taking a nap in the car. I just took her today and took a nap. When she got in she asked me if I seen a drill they did, I said no because I was asleep. She kinda disappointed. Sure it’s different for each kid. Good food for thought though.

  • I don’t know about this. I stay at 14 year olds practice cause its so far away. Most the time I’m doing something else. Playing football with my son or taking a nap in the car. I just took her today and took a nap. When she got in she asked me if I seen a drill they did, I said no because I was asleep. She kinda disappointed. Sure it’s different for each kid. Good food for thought though.

  • This is ridiculous. I watch practice and keep my mouth shut and retrieve soccer balls when I can. Showing my son support by being there I know for a fact encourages them. This article is for those asshole parents but tough shit, take me to court.

  • Parents should have the right if they choose to, period. A good parent does not interfere with coaches. My eldest son would wave when I came and when I left. Then asked how he did that day. It’s more about the coaches not wanting to deal with it than the parent wanting to watch. Don’t forget who pays them! My kids are confident and don’t care what people think. Just the way I raised them.

  • As a parent, there’s no way I’m leaving my kids at practice. I would not feel safe doing so. This article could be considered grooming by some parents. I would like to take my children to a neighboring club nearby in order to get extra touches on the ball, but they have a “drop off only” policy. Nope. Red flags.

  • Why instead of focusing on the “missing”, “attention deficit” and all other behaviors that can come playing soccer (do not think that going for a cup of coffee at the office is a form of productivity), we focus on the performance and progress the child is making. As a mother of two kids soccer players, I am engaged and attentive to their needs. I’m not a coach because I train my kids myself, while one is practicing we train with the other one, and viceversa. This makes me experience their strengths and flaws, giving the room for improvement. I can’t ask more from them if I don’t give more from myself. Tough, I completely hate to be a “soccer mom”, it appeases me to know that I’m also giving my best at this none sense routine. Also, my children love to be seen (sometimes not cheered) on their bests. I would think you are being to demanding (that’s why they do not care for you to watch) or their coach is not connecting them to their full potential. About other things to do, I also have my book and computer in case kids are not feeling an extra practice that day, I believe parents ALWAYS have something to do. If not some extra ZZZs! 😉

  • As an 8th grader who plays club soccer, I absolutely DESPISE my parents coming to practice and watching. I don’t even like when my mom watches my games, since afterwards she says things like “Defense was slacking, the goalie needed more help. I feel bad for the goalie.” Guess what position I play? DEFENSE.

  • I played ice hockey for 12 years as a kid… When I was a kid, seeing my parents in the stands made me feel good. I knew my parents loved me, because they were there to support me in the things I did. Then I’d see the kids whose parents were too busy to come or didn’t bother… they looked sad and depressed all the time. I pitied them. Of course, then there were the kids whose fathers were screaming curse words from the bleachers at the refs and coaches and other players… I felt sorry for them too.

    It all depends on the parent and the kids. If you’re an asshole… don’t go to your kids games. Maybe just don’t go out at all. The world has enough assholes running around….

    If you’re a rational human being who can keep their emotions in check, then your kids probably are happy to have you there and you should be there.

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    Skye Eddy

    Founder, SoccerParenting.com
    Skye is a former All-American goalkeeper, professional player and collegiate coach. She holds her USSF "B" License and USSF National Goalkeeper License and is an active youth coach, soccer parent and coach educator.