It is often said that one of the biggest hurdles young soccer players can face is their parents. Unfortunately, that line of thought is true for many kids who love soccer.
The parent’s support can make a lot of difference to a player’s development. But most soccer sports parents need to educate themselves about providing a healthy environment for a player.
In short, being a great soccer parent needs effort as well as steering clear of some mistakes.
1. Acting Like a Coach
There are plenty of parents who shout instructions to their kids from the sidelines. But many such parents do not have much idea about the fundamentals of soccer.
While youth soccer parents may have their own ideas about how their kids should play, they should not try to replace soccer coaches.
Constant parental interference with the playing style or team issues will simply confuse the young players.
It will also put too much pressure on them and hinder their performance. In reality, players are not looking for that kind of guidance from parents. Being supportive and making the right motivational comments should be good enough.
As a parent, it is best not to provide directions to your kids and stop trying to control how they play. At best you can encourage them to improve their efforts and attitude toward the game.
2. Ignoring Your Childs Wishes and Feelings
Parents need to allow their child to play soccer the way the kid wants instead of imposing their own ideas on them. The important thing is to learn what the kid loves to do and support them as needed.
Many times, kids are forced to act or play in a way to avoid disappointing their parents. This could lead to anger, frustration, and poor performance in the long run.
Instead of forcing the kids to do something they do not want to do, soccer parents should allow them to enjoy the soccer experience in their own way.
3. Pointing Out Mistakes
Parents need to focus on the positive aspects of a child’s performance and need not highlight the mistakes made during a soccer game or a training session. Criticism and underappreciation can make the players unmotivated and affect their performance during practices and soccer tryouts.
The negative emotions resulting from such interactions can lead to the release of chemicals that negatively impact their performance. On the other hand, feelings of joyfulness, pride, and excitement can improve the child’s sports performance.
Like adults, children also perform better through positive reinforcement and a supportive environment. So, point out the smallest improvements and progress they are making to help them take their game to the next level.
4. Engaging in a Post-game Analysis
Many soccer parents prefer to discuss the details of a game once it is over. The fact is, players do not want to engage in an analysis with their parents after a rough match.
Parents need not point out what their kids did wrong. Chances are they are already aware of their mistakes in the game. So, it is best that you give them the space that they need.
It is important to let a kid enjoy their role as a part of a soccer team instead of focusing on winning and losing. If the child starts a post-game discussion, keep it positive and offer encouragement. Steer the conversation away from the score line as much as possible.
The best soccer parent behavior can be brought about by using simple positive sentences like "I love to watch you play".
5. Relying Only on Raw Talent
Many 5–6-year-old soccer players have a lot of natural talent, but they cannot be expected to progress based only on that. Many parents aware of their child’s talent make the mistake of highlighting or exaggerating that aspect.
Like all other youth sports, performing in high school or college soccer requires players to focus on overall skill development. These include strengths as well as weaknesses.
For the best interest of player development, soccer parents should encourage their kids to grow and mature through dedicated practice and hard work.
6. Promoting Overtraining
Many kids who play soccer undergo training in private academies, or clubs, or have personal trainers. In addition, they also need to play for their school teams. Encouraging such strict year-round training regimes can cause injuries and burnout.
Overtraining will lead to poor time and energy management and reduce recovery time. As a result, players may start losing interest in the game. Besides, receiving different forms of guidance and training from multiple sources can be confusing for the kids.
Parents have to make sure that their kids are leading a stress-free and well-balanced life. Other than just getting better with the soccer ball, they should also be encouraged to pursue their other interests.
Quite simply, focusing on quality training rather than quantity can make youth soccer better in all aspects.
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7. Fighting the Child’s Battles for Them
Many times, soccer players have to face coaching decisions that can be disappointing. However, it is not a good idea for the parents to approach the coach to discuss such issues. In most cases, coaches find it hard to make the parents understand the technical reasons behind their decisions.
Truth is, it is best to allow the kids to meet the challenges on their own. Encourage them to discuss the issue with the coach directly and get the right first-hand feedback. That way, they will be able to make the necessary changes and improve their game.
Beyond that, this will also help the kids to learn the life lesson of speaking up with confidence.
8. Not Ensuring Model Sporting Behavior
It is important for soccer parents to set the right example by following the best sideline etiquette. This includes respecting the soccer club coaches, officials, and also the opposition. Congratulating the good play of both teams is also necessary.
As a spectator, it is necessary to keep the comments positive and constructive. Even if the game is not progressing the way you want, it is important to control your temper and not complain.
Parents new to the world of soccer might find it difficult to understand the dos and don’ts of soccer parenting. These are some points that will help them to ensure the best for their child’s soccer journey.
As a soccer coach, you can have a discussion with the soccer parents to ensure the best for the players. Empowering parents with the right knowledge or suggesting they seek guidance from soccer parenting associations are also good ideas.
At all times, a soccer parent’s behavior should be positive and supportive. Parents should allow their kids to have fun, without taking it too seriously.
While being competitive is necessary, losing sight of the fun aspects of a game is not the best way to support a kid to perform better.