*The content in this article applies to players age 15 and under. Beyond the age of 15, coaches should deal primarily with the player about his or her development and status on a team.
In youth soccer we have an atypical sales structure. The seller is the club. The buyer is the parent. The child is the user. The customer is not the direct beneficiary of the services rendered, nor is the user privy to the details of the buyer and seller transaction.
This sales structure mimics the manner in which clubs communicate with parents. Parents are usually informed about team logistics but uninformed about soccer specific matters. Children are direct recipients of their club’s value proposition. Children influence the purchasing decisions of the parent. As a result, clubs don’t feel as compelled to provide detailed education and developmental content to parents.
Environments where there is little to no seller communication with buyers about user developmental status become breeding grounds of speculation. Character archetypes emerge in most parent groups. If a parent group includes a former soccer player, he or she becomes the leader and speculator in charge. Insecure parents usually micromanager their child on the field. Some parents find comfort in criticizing the coach’s decisions. Other parents take their frustrations out on referees, regardless of the referees age.
Largely, parents want to help their children succeed. Some parents are balanced, some are erratic, but fundamentally, they want to help their child succeed.
The absence of information forces parents to interpret signals. Some parents would rather believe a lie than accept not knowing. As lies compound are shared and treated as fact within a parent group, an informational ghetto has formed.
My hypothesis: Poor club / parent communication breeds information ghettos.
What is the information ghetto?
It is a toxic place where parents are placed in an isolated, segregated group. They are informationally impoverished. They feel the pressure associated with ignorance. They status signal by re-directing the focus from collective ignorance to summer camp and summer vacations. Information is social currency. Virtue signaling determines the value of the social currency. The glue that binds the informational ghetto together is collective ignorance. The life blood of the information ghetto are lies.
How can parents avoid the information ghetto?
Avoid gossip at all costs
Meet with the coach and ensure he / she answers all of your developmental questions
Have Q & A meetings with your teams’ parents and coach
Check your emotions before, during and after trainings and games
Avoid virtue signaling
Avoid status signaling games with other parents
Read coach and club emails for useful information
Don’t play for a coach with a history of poor communication
Don’t join a club that has a leadership group that is overly influenced by parent groups (I will share tips in a future article)