With the youth soccer season upon us, many parents are returning to the sidelines (or heading there for the first time) to play the role of soccer mom or dad. Many may be wondering—what can I do, as a parent, to give my child the encouragement he or she needs while still staying “within bounds?”
It’s a question that has been asked time and time again. Today, we’re sharing a few ideas that parents and children alike can benefit from this season.
Don’t try to play coach
If there’s one thing youth soccer coaches could do without, it’s parent “coaching” from the sidelines. We’ve all done it—calling out plays to our children, telling them to “pass the ball” or simply “kick it out of there!”
While we only say these things to help and encourage our children, they may be less helpful than we think. Many parents simply don’t know the ins and outs of soccer, especially youth soccer (which, while it generally sticks to the rules of the big leagues, can often be different in key ways). Even if they do, coaches want to do their job without outside interference—and when their directions conflict with parents on the sidelines, the players themselves may become confused and miss an opportunity. To avoid this, simply try to leave the playmaking to the coaches while at a game.
This, of course, also goes for referee interaction. While every one of us has seen a bad call before, expressing this vocally may escalate a situation and, at the very least, embarrass your child.
Just because you aren’t encouraged to coach during your child’s game doesn’t mean you should keep quiet. Positive words from the sidelines can encourage your child and improve their game play, so keep on shouting your “good jobs” and “good hustles!”.
Practice and condition with your child
While you may not know all the tricks of the game, you can still help your child practice and condition (even if you’ve never played a day in your life!). Take time to kick the ball around in the backyard, or bring your child along on your neighborhood jogs. These activities may not seem like much now, but they can help your child stay fit and ready to play come game day—and, of course, you get to spend some time together, which is always a good thing.
Help to prepare your child for practice
Do your part to get your child to practice ready and on time—their coach will thank you! Because youth soccer players can’t drive themselves, they do depend on you for a ride to practice and games (and, of course, a spare pair of socks or shin guards occasionally as well).
Lend a hand
You can help your child and their coach by lending a hand during practices and game days. Whether you do this by supplying snacks, passing out uniforms or cleaning up after practice, your small contribution can go a long way in improving the team.
We hope that these tips will help you in your role as soccer mom or dad this season—now get out and enjoy the game!