Images credit: Dreamstime
Being a soccer parent is awesome because we love watching our kids play and seeing them develop those new and phenomenal skills on the field. But how can parents be really supportive and help their kids get the most out of their time on the field? Here are five tips that every soccer parent should follow.
1. Encourage your child to make mistakes.
Though it might seem pretty counter intuitive, it’s really important for your child’s success that they make mistakes. If your child is making mistakes, then it means that they’re taking risks. Children are naturally going to seek the approval of their parents, and so when parents applaud them when they try new things, they’ll keep trying. Brave players who go for it are the most successful, in part because they trust themselves and don’t hesitate.
2. Let them fight their battles
This is really one of the hardest things for parents to do – to step back and allow their kids to make it on their own. In youth sports it can be really tempting for parents to step in if they see what they think was a bad call, or if their child seems to be treated unfairly. However, parents really need to learn to step back and allow their kids to fight their own battles, to figure it out for themselves. The long-term consequences of whatever is happening on the field are likely to be small, but the rewards of children learning to stand up for themselves are long lasting and incredibly important.
3. Know what skills your child is training
One of the best ways for parents to support their kids is to engage in the development of their players. That means learning about what skills are being trained so that you can work to reinforce them at home. Talk to your child about what they’re learning and what they find to be challenging, and don’t be afraid to ask their coach about what skills you can help encourage them to develop.
4. Give the right focus on game day
Kids are under a great deal of pressure on game day, and what they really need is to have your full support, not your instruction. Whatever they know is what they know, so this is not the time for training. Leave that to the coaches during games. Instead, cheer them on or bolster them when they’re down. Focus on skills that they’ve been working on in practice, and recognise their hard work.
5. Don’t analyse the game afterwards
Create positive post-game rituals with your child. Don’t analyse what they did right or wrong – they know! Of course allow them to talk about it, and offer your support where you can, but realise that their coaches and team mates have already run down the breakdown of the game. Emphasise how much you loved to see them play, and pull out the things that they did that you have seen them working on in the lead up to the game. Then enjoy a family treat together, whether it’s their favourite dinner or a walk in the park together. Celebrate!