The role that parents play in the life of a soccer player has a tremendous impact on their overall experience. With this in mind, we have taken some time to write down some helpful reminders for all of us as we approach the upcoming season. If you should have any questions about these, please feel free to discuss it with the coaches.
- Be your child’s best fan: Support your player unconditionally. Do not withdraw love when your player performs poorly. Your child should never have to perform to win your love.
- Support and cheer for all players on your team and on the field: Foster teamwork. Your player’s teammates as well as the opposing players are not the enemy. When they are playing better than your child, your child now has a wonderful opportunity to learn.
- Let the coaches coach: Leave the coaching to the coaches. This includes motivating, psyching your child for practice, after game critiquing, setting goals, requiring additional training, etc. You have entrusted the care of your player to these coaches and they need to be free to do their job. If a player has too many coaches, it is confusing for her and her performance usually declines.
- Encourage your child to talk with the coaches: If your child is having difficulties in practice or games, or can’t make a practice, etc., encourage them to speak directly to the coaches. This “responsibility taking” is a big part of becoming a big-time player. By handling the off-field tasks, your child is claiming ownership of all aspects of the game – preparation for as well as playing the game.
- Understand and display appropriate game behavior: Remember, your child’s self esteem and game performance is at stake. Be supportive, cheer, and be appropriate. To perform to the best of her abilities, a player needs to focus on the parts of the game they can control (fitness, positioning, decision making, skill, aggressiveness, etc.) If she starts focusing on what she cannot control (the field condition, the referee, the weather, the opponent, even the outcome of the game at times) she will not play up to her ability. If she hears a lot of people telling her what to do, or yelling at the referee, it diverts her attention away from the game.
- Monitor eating and sleeping habits: Be sure your player is eating the proper foods and getting adequate rest.
- Help keep her priorities straight: Help your player maintain a focus on schoolwork, relationships and other things in life beside soccer. Also, if your child has made a commitment to soccer, help her fulfill her obligation to the team.
- Reality Test: If your child has come off the field when her team has lost, but she has played her best, help her to see this as a “win”. Remind her that she is to focus on “process” and the things she can control and not the scoreboard. Her fun and satisfaction should be derived from “striving to win”.
- Keep soccer in it proper perspective: Soccer should not be larger than life for you. If your child’s performance produces strong emotions for you, suppress them. Remember your relationship will continue with your children long after their competitive soccer days are over. Keep your goals and needs separate from your child’s experience.
- Have fun: That is what we will be trying to do! We will try to challenge your child to reach beyond their “comfort level” and improve themselves as a player, and thus, a person. We will attempt to do this in environments that are fun, yet challenging.
*Adapted from New Mexico Youth Soccer Association