If you have a child enrolled in summer soccer training camp or soccer training during the school year, you probably want to support them as much as you possibly can. Often, that means attending most of their games and encouraging them both on the field and off. But when it comes time for game day, it’s easy to fall into certain traps. While you may mean well, these behaviors may end up having a negative impact on young players. Let’s take a closer look at a few behaviors you should try your best to avoid.
1. Sideline coaching
It might be instinct, especially if you were a soccer player once yourself. But you should try your absolute hardest to refrain from sideline coaching. Not only is it distracting to hear a parent shouting out tips from the side lines, but it can actually cause them to become more anxious or to disregard what their actual coach has tried to teach. If you’re planning on attending a lot of youth soccer tournaments this season, focus on basic cheering or encouraging skills you see being put into action. Make sure any comments you make (and they should be few) are reactionary and positive, rather than instructional or negative.
2. Discouraging mistakes
It may not make much sense to you, but you should actually applaud when your child makes a mistake. That’s how they’re going to learn. Take the adage of “winning isn’t everything” to heart. It’s much better that they actually learn something valuable at summer soccer training camp than consistently win tournaments. Emphasize the importance of taking a risk and learning from what happens during the game. The most important thing is that they tried. Even if they fail, at least they tried something and learned from them. If they never take that risk, they’ll never grow as a player. Instead of berating any young player (not just your own) for messing up, tell them that mistakes are actually good things and that they should never be scared of making one.
3. Post-game analytics
Surveys show that 62% of kids who play organized sports in the U.S. do so just to interact with their friends. Without a doubt, that’s one of the reasons that youth soccer leagues are so popular. Don’t ruin their fun by forcing them to hear your post-game thoughts. More than likely, your child has already been told if they messed up, either by their coach or another player. They definitely don’t need you to point it out for them, too. What your child really needs is for you to tell them how much fun you had and to congratulate them on a job well done. That said, if they start that conversation and enjoy discussing the semantics of the game with you, that’s okay. But it’s important to be in-tune with your child’s needs and to avoid bringing up this topic yourself after a tournament.
When your child wants to improve on their skills, they’ll likely want to enroll in summer soccer training camp or programs during the year. More often than not, they won’t want their parents to force their own beliefs about the game on them. Of course, it’s great if soccer is an activity the whole family can enjoy. But as a whole, it’s best to let the experts handle the coaching while you support your child as a parent, rather than as a sports enthusiast.