Whether your child is a superstar or a rank beginner on the soccer field, as a parent you spend a lot time standing on the sidelines. Make the most of those hours to insure your youngster has a great time.
Parents from coast to coast enroll their kids in soccer programs. It’s a terrific sport for children. Size and strength are not prerequisites for success. Teamwork is crucial, which perhaps is the most important life lesson a young athlete can learn.
Understand the Game
It’s so easy to scream, yell, and cheer for your son or daughter on the field. It’s far more effective to cheer for them when you understand what is going on.
Buy a book, talk to an experienced soccer player, or pay attention at practice to learn the ins and outs of the game. Cheering for a player who is out of bounds or offsides doesn’t do anyone any favors.
Too often a sketchy understanding of the game’s rules leads to misunderstandings between parents and coaches and parents and referees.
To Coach or Not to Coach
Your community’s soccer league may be scrambling for coaches. If you have the time and expertise, volunteer! It’s lots of fun.
Chances are your own child will be on the team. Address the fear of favoritism head on.
Ask that your child call you “coach” during practice and games. From the get-go, explain to the team that each and every member is “your kid” during play. Keep track of how often all the kids play and be sure to rotate everyone fairly.
During practice drills, ask the assistant coach to work with your child more often than you do.
If your child does poorly during a game, behave like any other parent should: don’t overreact. Wait until you are on the way home to bring it up. Offer to work with him or her at home. Relate an experience from your own life that illustrates how everyone makes mistakes and has bad days.
Drill at Home – But Keep it Fun
You and your son or daughter can have fun kicking a soccer ball around in the backyard or park. At the same time, your youngster can brush up on dribbling, passing, throwing, and kicking skills.
Keep these practices short and casual. Try not to lose your temper or push your child. Instead, encourage him or her and keep it playful.
The Cheering SectionMake sure your child is in good health, properly equipped, and on time.
Foster a spirit of cooperation between parents and coaches.
Accept the referee’s decisions with grace. They are in charge of the game.
Remind your child to be honest and gracious, whether the team wins or loses.
Conduct yourself with honor and dignity.
When you assume your role as a soccer mom (or dad), keep in mind the “parents code” as outlined by the Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association:
Some towns have instituted what is called Silent Sunday. This means that no one can cheer or yell from the sidelines. The kids play their hearts out and the moms and dads stand by quietly.
Many children’s sports experts applaud this approach. Afterall, they explain, playing youth soccer is supposed to be fun for the kids.
Your town may not adopt such a strict policy, but everyone will benefit if the adults standing along the edge of the field are respectful -- and encouraging -- fans.