6 Ways to Handle a Crazy Soccer Parent

Oh no, a Crazy Soccer Parent has infiltrated the sidelines and is ruining it for you Non-Crazy Soccer Parents!

Gone are the relatively calm youth soccer games of last season where you sit comfortably in your chair and take in the “beautiful game” with your emotional scale running at close to 50% – not too up, not too down. Now, stress is looming. If you hear the Crazy Soccer Parent scream one more time to the ref, or pull some unsuspecting parent standing close to them into a conversation about what the coach is doing wrong tactically, you think you may, by mistake of course, pretend trip and pour your Starbucks down their back!

You can’t just sit there covering your ears.  

It’s Time to Unite and Take Back the Sidelines, Parents!!! Here’s How:

6 Ways to Handle a Crazy Soccer Parent

1. Parents Unite! – Don’t Let them Have a Voice on the Team

This is an essential first step. I get it that you don’t want to be the gossip and start any major rifts between parents or come across like you are talking about someone behind their back. However, for the parents to Unite and be a voice of reason, you must start taking sides. Strength in numbers is how you unite.

Here are two possible scenarios:

Scenario 1. The Crazy Soccer Parent is standing with a group of parents and all the sudden starts talking about the tactical failures of the coach. Look sideways at a few of the other parents and give a little “he/she is making me insane” look with your eyes wide open and claim your side of the situation by walking away and bringing others along with you.

Scenario 2. Listening to the Crazy Soccer Parent in the distance while standing with some other parents? Something simple like: “This is going to be a long season having to listen to him/her all the time.” Or: “I think I may need to start standing down by the corner flag if this doesn’t stop” are usually good comments that get your point across to other parents. When you get a nod in return, you know they have joined the alliance.

This article takes a lighthearted approach to a very REAL PROBLEM.  Crazy Soccer Parents are negatively affecting the culture for coaches, parents and players.  Learn more about how you can help via this link:  

Parents are the Solution, Not the Problem: How to Fix Youth Soccer – Non-Crazy Soccer Parents Unite!

2. Avoid Being Near Them

In the chaos between games when the group of parents from the game before got up and out of the way and you put your chair down – did you lose track of your chair placement and mistakenly sit too close to the Crazy Soccer Parent? MOVE. Yep – It doesn’t matter how rude it seems. Take that chair of yours and plop it down in greener pastures. If that means you have to leave your favorite spot on the sidelines – so be it. You owe them absolutely no explanation. Just Move. Being within hearing distance of a crazy soccer parent is no way to spend your weekend.

Oh no, the Crazy Soccer Parent doesn’t sit down? They are the pacer on the sideline – walking behind everyone and poisoning anyone within earshot with their negative comments and screams? Bummer, that’s the worst. Solution – WALK AWAY. Literally – walk in the opposite direction of them…the entire game. The Crazy Soccer Parent must look up and realize they are talking to no one. No one can listen.

3. Make Sure the Coach is Aware of the Problem

If you have a Crazy Soccer Parent on the sidelines, chances are the coach is well aware of them. However, because of the distance between the bench and other sideline, the coach may not be aware of their sideline behavior during a game. It’s essential that you make the coach aware of it so it can be handled.

If it’s REALLY bad, encourage the coach to have a club administrator or Board Member come to a game to have a listen and step in if necessary.

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4. Be Extra Nice to their Child

Obviously this goes without saying. The poor kid is already feeling horrible enough because they have a Crazy Soccer Parent to deal with. Take the rescuing approach. Yep, you read that right -Rescue the poor kid from the car ride home with a Crazy Soccer Parent!  If they are your child’s’ friend, invite them along for post-game Slurpees or ice cream. If it’s a long ride home after a game, invite them to hang with your child in your car and rejoice in a car filled with fun after a game instead of the potential play-by-play they have to deal with.

You can’t cross the line and talk to them about their parent, but you can model excellent behavior to give them a respite and a glimpse of a normal situation.

5. Stand Up to Them

So the whole avoiding thing only goes so far. At some point – if they cross the line – you must be ready to stand up to them. What is crossing the line? It’s easy. The moment this Crazy Soccer Parent talks to or complains loudly about ANY child on the field that is not their own – on either team – they have crossed the line.

YOU MUST STAND UP TO THEM.

Talking to or about another child is absolutely not acceptable.

What do you say? It’s not like you are going to reform them right there and then. They will most likely have a retort and it will most likely be uncomfortable. But talking to or about another child on the field is absolutely not acceptable and they need to know it.

A simple statement, in conjunction with direct and possibly awkward eye contact is called for: “You can’t talk to the players on the field that are not your own.” And then, walk away….

6. The Power of Passive Aggressive Statements

Sadly, there is no helping a Crazy Soccer Parent in the moment. In my experience, what works best? Passive Aggressive Statements.

Here are some good ones:

“Man, I don’t know how you make it through a game, you are so stressed all the time.”

“Geez, I think I need to move away from you, I am rather sure one of the parents from the other team is about to come punch you in the face, and I don’t want to be in the middle of a fight.”

“If I yelled like that, my child would quit playing or insist I never come to another game.”

“That definitely wasn’t off sides. Funny how two people can see such different things, hu?”

Fortunately, as more and more parents are being educated about the game and organizations like the Changing the Game Project, the Positive Coaching Alliance and SoccerParenting.com are starting to make a difference by educating clubs, coaches and parents – the Crazy Soccer Parent is losing their voice.

When a Crazy Soccer Parent does infiltrate your world…pass this article around to the Non-Crazy Parents without specific comment. They will all know whom it refers to. It will help you Non-Crazy Soccer Parents unite.

Non-Crazy Soccer Parents, Take Back Your Sidelines, UNITE!


About the Author Skye Eddy Bruce

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.

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  • Greg says:

    Unfortunately, the Team Manager is the problem. When I first met he the first thing he said to me was “I have been told my son is Big Ten material and I am building his resume”.
    The entire focus is on his son. I cannot prove it, however, I have seen it before. My friend is divorced and I used to go to his son’s games and send him pics later on.
    His coach was a screamer. The kids were petrified of him. The first thing I taught him was, listen to what he is asking you to do and not the screams. The second thing I taught him to get into games more often was to go and stand more than an arms length away so the coach could see he was interested in the game. Walla. Now here is the clincher, the coach’s son played on the team if my friend’s son outscored him he was taken out of the game because he was doing better than the coach’s son. What was I to do tell my friend’s son not to score too much. ( My friend’s son is now on the DC United Under 19 team and the Under 17 US Soccer Team).
    Not holding back was not an option and he was picked up by a County Team.
    Back to the present now this team manager seems to be the same way. My friend’s younger son at the end of the first year of travel was starting to look like his older brother scoring goals from different angles and handling the ball very well.
    Where does he end up in year two? Back on defense. Because if he was not there the team would get scored on constantly. Really? So, my friend who is paying money for his son to play in a position that is not his best position because a coach cannot teach any other players defensive skills? Give me a break. PS there were kids that were unhappy last year due to lack of playing time. Yet, as per the website this league is supposed to be about players developing skills , competition, and sportsmanship.

  • Janice says:

    This is a great article and one I wish I read years ago when my son started playing soccer. As team manager how would you, or anyone, suggest I diplomatically dial down these parents? This is my second year as manager. This year, and last, I made a point to include sideline behavior in our first meetings (we were a new team last year and have several new this year) because the move from advanced to competitive soccer is stressful for both parents and players. They didn’t need to hear negative comments from the sidelines. It worked great and the team really came together winning our division both seasons.
    This year, one of our parents has become “that mom.” Her son is a talented player but because he didn’t move up, she is pushing him hard, yelling at him and coaching from the sidelines. He recently guest played on a team where I have many friends and her behavior had those parents came to me concerned. The boy literally shut down in the first game (tournament). The defense was yelling at him to ignore his mom, listen to the coach and play. When the manager messaged me I told her to have the boys keep up constant game talk on the field. If they’re focused on what each other is saying and directions from the coach they won’t be focused on the parents. It worked and he was impressive in the remaining games.
    So my question is this. How, as manager, can I diplomatically approach this parent and make sure this doesn’t continue into the season? She’s a returning player parent and did not do this last year. I need her to realize that her behavior on the sidelines impacts her son and could make it difficult for him to move to a higher team if that coach feels she’s interfering. Any ideas?

    • Hi Janice – that’s a great question! Personally, I think this is most likely more of a coach issue than a manager issue….Obviously the parent is dealing with a lot of stress and is bordering on Crazy Soccer Parent status. My hope is that with some education and support from the coach, she will be able to calm down and understand how her actions are negatively affecting the performance of her child. I do have some additional resources on the MySoccerParenting.com site about this. There is a breakaway interview with Sam Snow about Why Parents Should Not Talk On the Sidelines that may be helpful for the parent to watch. Plus, Dan Abrahams chimes in with some great mental performance support for parents. As the manager, I would bring it to the attention of the coach and hopefully the coach has the skills to be able to talk to, educate and support the parent!

      ALSO – CHECK OUT THE SIDELINE PROJECT and register for more information to pass along to your coach!

  • Peter Kent says:

    Avoid them and make soccer great again.

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