How To Be A Great Soccer Parent
If you have found
your way to our website, and have gotten this far, then you are probably exactly
the kind of parent we are trying to reach - concerned and ready to support your
child's growth as a soccer player and as a person. What we intend to do is to
give you the information to enable you to support your child in the best way
possible, and to give you information that you can pass along to other parents
to enable them to do the same. Please discuss these ideas with other parents,
and please feel encouraged to rein in other parents who do not understand the
goals of the league as well as you do.
The key problem
is simple: parents often have different goals for their child's experience of
the sport than their children do, and pressure their children to do things that
they are not ready or able to do. A study published in the New York Times in
June 1997 presented the results of a survey that says it all: Parents and players
of competitive sports were given a checklist and told to circle the three most
important reasons why each group wanted to play sports. The parents' three most
common reasons for wanting their children to play sports were "being challenged",
"learning to compete" and "winning". The players had different
reasons - their most circled goals were "having fun", "learning
new skills" and "making friends".
In an effort to
help bring our goals closer to the goals of our children, we offer the following
THREE LEGS of SUPPORT. Follow these guidelines and you will have a very
stable relationship with your child as they grow into young adults enjoying
the wonderful game of soccer.
SUPPORT the kids This means all kids. Make positive comments to players, not negative
ones. Don't groan when someone misses the ball. After a loss or a mistake, don't
malign the other players. They are children too. Make a rule for yourself -
say one positive thing to an opponent each half! Applaud a great save by the
opposing goalie, a wonderful pass or a beautiful defensive play.
Forget the constructive
criticism. You know, things like "If you only worked on your left foot
a little more" or "next time you should pay attention when the coach
talks about heading!" Comments need to be unfailingly positive and supportive.
Kids take even the mildest criticism as a sign that you don't support them.
You job on the sidelines is to revel in their accomplishments and offer a shoulder,
a hug or a kiss when everything doesn't go perfectly. If your child's team does
not win the game, compliment the other team's play. In order to learn sportsmanship,
players must learn to accept limitations; both theirs and those of their teammates.
When players cheat, or engage in cheap physical play, it is usually because
they feel pressure from above that really comes down to "I'm not good enough
to do this by the rules, so I'd better do something extra."
And, please remember
that the kids on the other team might be your next door neighbor. Please don't
gloat over the mistake made by an opponent. For heaven's sake, no celebrating
over a team shellacking. What if it was your child? How would they feel? How
would you feel?
SUPPORT the Coach Here's a shock, your kid's coach isn't perfect. But
don't make it harder by coaching from the sidelines. Never yell to a player
to do something - that's the coach's job. Players HATE to hear instructions
from more than one source. Never, never decide that you know best what your
child should be doing and complain during the game. If you have an issue, take
it up with the coach after the game out of earshot of your child. Here's the
best advice ever from a very senior coach that works with some of our players,
"Let them play!"
It is a shame that the smallest kids play on the smallest fields allowing them to hear everything
that everyone says to them! How many times have we seen a child turn around
to a parent and say, "but the coach told me..." It's a sure sign
that you are interfering with your child's fun. Let the coach do the coaching.
You do the cheering.
SUPPORT the Referee Okay, this is very simple. Refs make mistakes. But,
they are the authority in the game of soccer. If you want your child to be a
good sport, respect authority and have fun, NEVER CRITICIZE THE REFEREE.
Let's be honest. Most of you don't really know the rules (Laws) of soccer. Most
of you don't have a clue about the intricacies of the offsides rule. Do you
know that your child can be knocked to the ground legally? A legal charge that
knocks your son or daughter over is not a foul. Do you know that it is not a
penalty for a larger player to out-physical a smaller player for the ball?
But, let's get back to the mistakes. To have games, we must have referees. We recruit new refs
EVERY YEAR. And EVERY YEAR, we lose referees (we do, yes we do, in Melrose -
we do) because a parent or coach has said something critical to a 12 year old
child who makes what is seen as an unfair call in a game between even smaller
children ! Does anyone think that a new ref is going to make the right call
all the time? Of course not. But, does anyone really think that a ref is going
to favor one side or the other? Please, these are games. Games as in fun and
play. They are not life or death for anyone, especially the ref! Assume the
ref will make the same amount of mistakes for both sides. If you can deal with
that you will be able to relax and enjoy the game a lot more.
In any event, our league has a zero tolerance policy toward abuse of its referees. Any parent
who verbally attacks a referee may be excused from the sidelines of his or her
child's games for the remainder or the year. All of us get wrapped up in our
children's games - it is one of the great thrills that makes sports so much
fun. However, we are the adults, and we need to be the ones who keep things
Again, the 3 tenets of support: SUPPORT the Players, the Coaches and the
This article was adapted from "Guidelines on how to be a great soccer parent"
which appears on the Westchester NY website: http://www.manhattansc.org
<< Back to Home