Parents & Sport Tips
Parents of young athletes play a vital role in their children’s development in a sport. While most parents do an excellent job supporting their child athlete, some parents struggle in their efforts to positively influence their children in the sporting environment. Well-intentioned, much of the time, some of their methods employ over-questioning, critical comments and unrealistic demands toward their children and from their coach. The situations that many young soccer athletes deal with before, during and after games and training sessions could bring a grown adult to tears. The links below are designed to help parents understand the rules of our Club, the rules of the game, and general information to help make their child’s soccer experience a positive one. Let’s do our part to make it enjoyable for the children!
Job Description for Parents
Thought those of you considering the new job of parent might want to take a look at the requirements first.
POSITION : Parent
JOB DESCRIPTION : Long-term player needed for challenging, permanent work in chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work evenings, weekends, and frequent 24-hour shifts. There is some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far-away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed.
RESPONSIBILITIES : Must keep this job for the rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule. Must be willing to tackle stimulating technical challenges such as small gadget repair, sluggish toilets, and stuck zippers. Must handle assembly and product safety testing, as well as floor maintenance and janitorial work. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars, and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and levels of mentality. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute and an embarrassment the next. Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of end product.
ADVANCEMENT AND PROMOTION : There is no possibility of either. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.
PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE : None required, but on-the-job training is offered on a continually exhausting basis.
WAGES : None. In fact, you must pay those in your charge, offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 and attend college. When you die, you give them whatever income you have left.
BENEFITS : There is no health nor dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays, and no stock options. However, the job offers limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life.
Keys to Peak Parental Performance
Youth soccer clubs are always seeking ways to rein in parental enthusiasm without dampening it. The Stone Mountain (Ga.) Youth Soccer Association recently distributed a clear, concise set of standards addressing that delicate balance:
· Let the coaches coach. This includes goal setting and psyching up your child for practice and post game critiques. Having more than one “coach” confuses children.
· Do not bribe or offer incentives. Leave motivation to the coach. Offering money for scoring goals, for example, distracts your child from concentrating properly in practices and games.
· Support your child unconditionally. Do not withdraw love when your child performs poorly.
· Support all players on the team. Your child’s teammates are not the enemy. When they are playing better than your child, she has a wonderful opportunity to learn.
· Support the program. Get involved by volunteering, helping with fundraisers, car-pooling, or however else you can.
· Encourage your child to talk with the coaches. “Taking responsibility” – whether about playing difficulties or missing an upcoming match – is a big part of soccer.
· Understand and display appropriate game behavior. When you cheer appropriately, you help your child focus on the parts of the game he can control (positioning, decision-making, skills, etc.). If he begins focusing on elements he can’t control (field conditions, the referee, the weather, etc.), he will not play up to his ability.
· Monitor your child at home. Be sure she is eating and sleeping properly.
· Help your child keep priorities straight. A youngster needs help balancing schoolwork, friendships, and other commitments besides soccer. But having made a commitment to soccer, she also needs help fulfilling her obligation to her team.
· Pass the reality test. If your child’s team loses but he played his best, help him see this as a “win.” Remind him to focus on the process, not the end result. Fun and satisfaction should come from “striving to win.” Conversely, do not let him be satisfied with “winning” if it comes from inadequate preparation and performance.
· Keep soccer in its proper perspective. The game should not be larger than your life. If your child’s performance produces strong emotions in you, suppress them. Keep your own goals and needs separate from your child’s. Remember that your relationship with your child will continue long after her competitive soccer days end.
Article courtesy of Soccer America’s Youth Soccer Letter and editor Dan Woog.
Taking the fun out of play
Jonathan H. Buzby
Like a lot of youth sports parents I find myself trying to coach my child while we’re playing in the backyard. I try to work on technique. He just wants to have fun. I get stressed out when he doesn’t want to listen. He gets upset when I won’t stop coaching.
Children need to play and it needs to be fun. If it’s not fun they will lose interest. Playing is important at any age. How many of us would play the recreational sports we do (golf, tennis, etc.) if every time we swung the club or racquet someone was correcting our technique.
When your child is not at practice let him/her dictate how to spend time playing (as long as it’s safe). I asked my son why he plays basketball at recess everyday since it’s a sport he does not play in a formal league. His response was, “Because it’s fun.” At recess there are no coaches, no parents, no officials and no pressure. Kids can make up the teams and the rules to make sure they have fun. The same should happen at home.
If you’re wondering why all of a sudden your child does not want to play soccer with you, think back to the last few times you were outside playing together. Did you spend more time coaching than just being a parent? Did you dictate what the two of you would play and how it should be played? If so, you may have taken the fun out of your child’s play.
Next time you go outside to play with your child, try to make an honest effort to let your child decide what you’ll play and what the rules will be. Don’t correct, explain or demonstrate unless you’re asked. You might be surprised how much fun you’ll have together.
Article contributed by Coaching Youth Sports, an online newsletter presenting information about learning and performing sport skills.
Header: To hit the ball with the head.
Breakaway: When an attacker has the ball with nothing but green acreage between him/her and the goalie.
Marking: Covering a player so as to steal the ball when it is kicked to him/her.
Clearing kick : A defensive kick that puts the ball out of the defenders’ half of the field.
Centering kick : A kick from the sides to the middle, so as to take a shot with the foot or the head at goal.
Off-the-ball : What happens away from where the ball is, i.e., moving into a position to take a pass.
Trapping : Stopping the ball with your foot. Also, catching an attacker off-sides.
Chip-pass : A swift, usually short pass that goes over a defender’s head.
Dribbling : What most parents do with their drinks when their kids get near the goal with the ball. No, really: Running downfield with the ball at your feet.
Linesman : The assistant referee with the flag who tells the referee when the ball is out of play or when an attacker is off-sides.
Referee : The sole judge of fact, law and time. Don’t argue with the refs, because they cannot reverse their decisions.
Reacting to your child’s performance
Richard K. Stratton
As part of your child’s sports environment. you are expected to be a source of feedback about their performance. You need to be sensitive to this role. When your son or daughter first started participating in this sport, you probably discussed with them some of your expectations about their performances. Depending on how much you know about the sport, it might have been something as simple as “We just expect you to try hard and do your best” or it may have been much more specific and detailed. Now that your child is performing it is important that your reactions to their performances are built around the framework of the previously discussed set of expectations. Be prepared to react to both good and poor performances. As was discussed in the feature article in this issue, feedback is used for three purposes: error correction, motivation, and reinforcement. You should be especially aware of opportunities to provide motivation and/or reinforcement. Team environments often tend to utilize feedback only for error identification and error correction purposes, sometimes causing in athlete to develop feelings of frustration or a feeling that they are not doing anything right. This focus on mistakes/errors in sports is a universal problem. I even heard a television sports commentator recently lament the negative tone of most sportscasts and the frequent failure to comment on positive plays when they occur.
We must convince ourselves and our children that mistakes are a natural part of sports, and most activities in life, for that matter. While it is true that athletes should strive to reduce the mistakes they make, they will never totally eliminate them. Perfection rarely occurs in sports. Even the very best athletes, the professional athletes and Olympic level athletes make mistakes. Consider how rare the “Perfect Game” is in baseball. For that matter, consider how rare an error-free game is. In one of the recent major league baseball all-star games, the best players in baseball made 5 errors! We certainly should never expect children in youth sports to play without making mistakes. It is important that they understand this and set realistic performance expectations for themselves. Accentuate the positive!