Dear Coach: I'm a youth league (ages seven to nine) soccer coach, and I'm looking to stay out of the news. You know all those stories about pushy parents getting into brawls with their kids' coaches? We're almost at that stage. How can I avoid that?
GIVE PEACE A CHANCE
Dear Peace: Get people to lower the volume immediately. Call an emergency meeting with the parents and go over your guidelines regarding playing times for kids and acceptable sideline behavior by parents. If after that you find yourself in a bad situation with a parent during a game, quickly reduce tensions. Go up to the unruly grown-up and let him vent for a minute before suggesting you continue the discussion at a later time. As a last resort, talk to league officials about having the child—and thus, the parent—transferred to another team.
Dear Coach: My 10-year-old son is a pretty good football player. Problem is, he's overly competitive. When his team loses, he's nearly inconsolable. What should I do?
Dear Daddy: Kids who have a tough time coping with a loss often think it's up to them to make sure their team wins. Victory for them doesn't bring happiness, just relief. Explain to your son during a calm moment—not right after a game—that winning and losing are usually beyond his control, and that all great athletes suffer losses. Then suggest that the best way to cope with his frustrations is to direct those negative feelings into something positive, like working on his skills. Defeat can be a great motivator.