Dean Arrowsmith

Meet: Dean Arrowsmith

Role: Director of Coaching for AYSO 300 Extra and United

  1. Can you give us a bit of background information on yourself? 

My name is Dean Arrowsmith. I’m 31 years old from Ireland now working as a Director of Coaching for AYSO 300 Extra and United programs just outside Chicago, Illinois. I have been coaching since the age of 16, starting at my local grassroots club, progressing to work in the League Of Ireland with Dundalk Football Club as kitman for the first team and assistant for the old reserve team. I am a UEFA B and USSF C licensed coach. 

2. How would you define a parent(s) role within youth sports? 

My opinion on the parent’s role within youth sports is that they are a guardian for their child. They should ensure their child is in an environment where they can learn and grow as a person. They need to stand off and have faith in the coaches of their child whilst also ensuring their child is learning during their time within a sport. Parents and coaches should look to create a positive relationship to help the most important person in this-the young athlete.

The role should not be to “helicopter” parent and be involved in everything happening within that environment. Allow their child have setbacks and figure it out as best they can. This will help teach their child valuable life lessons.

3. What are the benefits of being a positive youth sports parent?

The benefit of being a positive youth sports parent is that it will only help create a good culture within a sports environment. Parents play a key role in a player experience within any activity. By being a supportive parent no matter the situation, you’re helping harness the impact of a player’s reaction. 

4. Tell us a bit about how your parents supported you through the journey into becoming a player/coach/teacher? 

My parents have huge a huge impact on my love of sports. They where always supportive of my participation, whether it be soccer or GAA (Gaelic Football). As a player they never fought my battles for me, which I feel has helped me gain valuable life experiences.

In terms of coaching, the support they have given me has provided me the opportunities to progress to where I am now. At the age of 16, when I realized a Premier League appearance would never materialize my dad drove me an hour away to take my first coaching course with the Football Association of Ireland.

They pushed me to take opportunities to go to the USA and try coaching in a new country which has paid dividends as I’ve been here full time for almost 6 years now. I owe my coaching career to them. 

5. What advice would you give any youth sports parents, with a talented son/daughter and ambition also drive to reach the highest level? 

  • Advice to the player: Don’t rely on your parent’s to fight your battles. Your hard work will pay off but you need to put that effort in yourself. Ask your coaches for feedback constantly.
  • Advice to the parents: Observe quietly how your child is doing at their chosen sport. Ask them their opinion on how they’re doing. Try not to give your own opinion. If things are not going well, ask them guided questions “What can you do to improve”. 

6. In your experience as a coach, how can parents, affect player(s) (short & long term)? 

Short Term:

Negative: What they say/do from sidelines/in the car can negatively impact their child’s self esteem

Positive: If they ask guided questions and help their child problem solve, it can lead to a more determined player.

Long Term:

Negative: They can cause burnout and kill the love of any given sports

Positive: From personal experience, parents can help enhance the love of any given sport and also help change the direction in where that love goes; ie playing to coaching.

7. What advice would you give coaches/clubs regarding youth sports parents? 

Embrace the parents, involve them as part of your community and develop your culture that includes parents. Educate them on what your goals are. One example is after every game, I will send an email on how the team have performed (not mentioning individuals). I will then let them know what we are working during this week’s training. I’ve learned that by providing this information, there is less conflicting messages going to the field from parents and coaches.

8. What advice would you give youth sports parents for the car journey to and from youth sports practices and/or games?

Ask questions and listen to your child. And when you listen, HEAR what they are saying. Try not to project your opinion on them. Good coaches should be providing players with feedback on their performance so it’s good for parents to really understand what they are seeing in games. 

As I’ve referred to many times, setbacks are ok in youth sports. Players need to learn from the negative as much as the positive. It will help them when they become adults. It’s good life experience. 

If your child is in the car regardless of a good or bad day, one question you should always is ask is “what can you do better next time”. Help get your young athletes thinking about their own development. 

9.What types of behaviours/mannerisms/comments would you encourage parents to demonstrate? 

Pre-Game: Be relaxed, try not to talk too much about the game. Try avoid any extra pressure being placed on the child. Talk about what you’re going to eat after the game, allow them listen to music etc.

During the Game: Encourage. Nothing else. Allow the coaches to coach, cheer the athlete and team on.

Post-Game: Guided questions. Ensure player is ok physically after their activity. Don’t dwell on the game, win or loss. 

10. What is next for you as a coach / club / organisation? 

For me personally, I am starting my UEFA Youth Elite B later in 2021. It’s a new course and one I am excited to be a part of. I am also keen to get involved in coach education. I recently gave a presentation on Mental Health in Youth Soccer, with an emphasis on the post Covid times. It was well received so its something I’d be very eager to continue.

Regarding our organisation, AYSO 300 is going from strength to strength each year. The youth sports model is different in the USA than Ireland, so we are determined to continue to offer an inclusive program without the shackles of finances. We have a great staff of coaches eager to continue learning and improving. That can only be a good thing for our program. Finally as mentioned, I want to continue educating parent’s on the sport I love and developing good young people; making them good soccer players is a bonus perk!

Thank you for taking the time to complete the following interview questions.

You can find more about Dean on these social media outlets:

Twitter: @Pingudean

Linkedin: Dean Arrowsmith

Thank you Dean for taking the time to complete the following interview questions.

The Sporting Influencer