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An open letter to soccer parents: Helicoptering does more harm than good

Written by Joseph Tchimou


First off, let me take my hat off to all the parents for their hard work in helping out their kid(s) in all the activities they part take in. It’s not an easy job.

But there’s a big problem ruining youth soccer, and that’s parents involved in their kid’s battle. We know them as “helicopter parents.” Their time and energy is allocated to their child’s success and happiness, but they conveniently forget that their kids can’t always be under their care. I’m not a parent and can’t give advice on parenting and when to stop hovering over your child’s every movement on the soccer field. But what I can tell you is to let your kid fight his battle on his own, as it will only help him in the future.

We’ve all experienced a time in our soccer career where playing time, or trouble with teammates or coaches has come about. That’s not for parents to fight the player’s battle. You’re a supporter of the game, your kid and his teammates. Not an official of the game.

What are you going to do when you kid is caught in the same situation at the college level? There, helicopter parents have no place or opinion. Everything is based on performance. The best players play. And even if there is slight evidence of favoritism, there isn’t anything you can do about it. And by that time it’s too late, because your child won’t know how to deal with that sort of situation as you have fought all his battles throughout his career.

Never allowing your child to succeed or fail on his own on the soccer field will affect them negatively down the road.

Yes, I understand you spend X-amount of money on your child’s athletic career, and thus feel entitled to have a say in what goes on. But you’re only making your child believe they’re better than they actually are. There’s always room for improvement. Your child could be the best player on the field by a mile, but if they are made to believe that they are that, they won’t improve. But that will catch up to them later on down the road, as kids are continuously getting better, bigger, stronger and faster.

If your kid is faced with troubles on the soccer field, teach him the soccer skills to have him become a better player to keep up with the rapid development of athletes. And then give him the room to use them.

The game is a competitive atmosphere, and your presence in your child’s career should be in a positive way rather than negative. Only your child, but most importantly the coaches will understand the player’s ability and expectation. Don’t be that parent who makes your child’s soccer experience a misery. It is a game, which they should enjoy.

Avoid hovering over your kid’s athletic career. It will only help them rather than hurt them. And remember, attend your son or daughter’s game as a fan, not a coach or manager. It will only help the game of soccer. And trust me, there’s nothing we as kids hate more than our parents howling about how the game should be played or the team should be run from the sideline.


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  • Ra Ha

    There is always room for improvement, but the best players should not be punished for not playing “up to their potential” while less talented players get brownie points for “effort”.

  • ethan

    this is an oversimplification of what ruins youth soccer in America. parents are not THE problem. There are many things wrong with American soccer. we shouldnt be surprised when people invest thousands that they should have a say in it. how money flows is part of the problem, but there are many others. i find a focus on parents to be an easy way out of a complex problem.

  • Have a kid then comment

    When you said you are not a parent, i quit reading.

  • Anonymous

    It would be different if the players were getting paid, but the coaches are the ones getting paid. For what? Same answer to this question: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

    The world will never know.

  • Brandon

    Makes obvious sense however there is a ton of crap happening in soccer right now. Especially at the comp club level. We have clubs and coaches that are constantly hoping kids dont switch clubs and that they have a great resume that will get them moving up in the evolving youth soccer landscape. But yes…. dont get too involved in the politics of the team. Especially in front of your player.

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