We know that parents play a critical role in their child’s soccer development but have you ever really examined whether you’re supporting your child’s development or hindering it?
We’ve all seen the extremes: the ranting and raving parent on the sideline, the parent who has their player training seven days a week, year-round, or the parent who doesn’t show up to anything or seem to take an interest in their child’s life on the field.
The majority of soccer parents fall somewhere in the middle: parents who have good intentions and just want the best for their child.
This list is for those parents.
1. You don’t encourage your child to make mistakes
It seems contradictory, but yes, we want players to make mistakes as this is how they learn best! With so much focus on mastering skills not enough players put themselves out there to take risks. Most kids want the approval of their parent and coach and they need to know you will support them even if they fail. Because ultimately, they don’t fail. They will learn something from that moment that is invaluable and that will help them grow as a player and as a person.
Instead of the kid who passes the ball all the time because they are afraid to take on a player 1v1, the brave player will learn when it’s best to dribble and when it’s best to pass, without hesitation or fear.
2. You fight battles that aren’t yours to fight
Have you ever approached a coach about how your kid didn’t get enough playing time? I can tell you right now that this is the conversation every coach hates to have with a parent, and it likely won’t help your child in any way. Instead, encourage your child to take ownership of the game and their development as a player. It should be up to them to approach the coach if they have a question or concern. This will go over better with the coach, will likely result in more useful information, and it will also teach your child a number of lessons that can be applied to their life on and off the field.
3. You don’t engage with your child about their development process
How much do you know about what your child is working on during training? I encourage you to find out! This doesn’t mean calling up the coach or club and asking for their practice plans. Instead, just talk to your child about the skills or ideas that they’re learning and what they find challenging. This can also lead to helping your player set personal goals in their own development.
4. You coach and cheer for the wrong things on game day
We’ve all heard that parent on the sideline scream “Shoot it!” or “Pass it!” Maybe it’s you. It’s natural to want to help your player on the field, but this does not help. This is a parent who is guilty of both No. 1 and No. 3. These directions can cause anxiety for a player already under pressure on the field. In fact, they may even directly contradict what their coach has instructed them to do.
5. You analyse the game with your child afterwards
What is your postgame ritual with your child? Do you start analysing the game and what your child did right or wrong before you even get in the car? Believe me – your child knows what they did wrong. If they don’t, it’s likely their coach or a teammate has already told them. The best thing you can say to your player after a game is how much fun you had watching them. If they engage you in a post-game talk, go for it. But instead of a full-game analysis, try picking out some things they did in the game that you know he or she has been working on.
Grasshopper Soccer is passionate about introducing kids to soccer in a non-competitive environment but that is difficult to maintain when parents are competitive for their children. It pays to remember that Grasshopper Soccer is fun fun fun! – we don’t want our players to be too serious. We want them to grow and learn life skills in a secure environment where every failure teaches us a little something about ourselves.