How can we support our children and young players during their early stages of soccer?

What Damage can be caused from the sidelines unintentionally?

Every weekend, parents, children and coaches set off for their Match Day. Many of these parents and coaches are well intentioned and trying to support their child and their team through match situations , however, the damage that they could be having on the child may be vastly underestimated.

Over the last few weeks I have been observing the number of instructions yelled from the sideline by parents and coaches to the children. The volume was extraordinary and the comments were not positive praise. They ranged from instructions on where to move, where to stand, who and when to pass too and many more.

What seems to be lacking here is simple understanding that their child is embarking on a new task that should be fun and exciting , but during this time their child is being yelled instructions on a regular basis and in some cases, contradictory instructions. If as adults we were to imagine for a moment that this was happening to us, I would like to think that not only would it cause confusion, it would most likely result in us making the wrong decisions.

Now imagine the impact this must have on a child that is actively involved in their game.

It could well be that parents and coaches are not aware of the damage they are doing, that everyone is caught up in the excitement and emotion of a game and they feel that they are really helping and supporting their child but the long-term implications for the child cannot be ignored.

Some of which are
-Reduces problem solving skills
-Decreases decision making skills
-Reduces creativity in young players
-Reduces the child’s enjoyment
-Increases the pressure on the child
-Increases anxiety in the child
-Prevents children from mastering life skills
-Decreases the ability of the child to cope independently

So, what can you do to support and encourage your child?

The most important thing you want to do is give your kids the message that you believe in them. A simple phrase made up of five magic words that every parent should commit to their memory is

                                “I Love Watching You Play”

This simple sentence tells your child that your love for them is not dependent on how they perform. Other examples of ways that you can support your child are to teach them good sportsmanship. Asking them to do the following will support this:

  • Have a positive attitude
  • Give their best effort
  • Shake hands with the other team before and after the game
  • Support their teammates by saying “Good Try” and to never criticize a teammate for trying
  • Take pride in winning but not to rub it in
  • Accept officials calls and do not argue
  • Treat the other team with respect
  • Accept a loss

Now, what can you do as a Parent?

  • Keep all your sideline comments positive and encouraging
  • Praise good plays regardless of who makes them
  • Congratulate the winners even if they are the other team
  • Don’t bad mouth officials. If there is a need to do so, do it privately.
  • Ask your child open-ended questions and don’t try to focus on who won or lost. Asking them questions like “What did you do well during the game?” and “Was there something you wish you could have done better? If your child recognizes something that they could have done better, offer to work on it together before the next game.
  • Look for good examples of sportsmanship in professional sport and point them out to your child. Showing bad examples can also help.

3 Comments on “How can we support our children and young players during their early stages of soccer?”

  1. What a great article! The time we have watching our children play football is limited. I really do love watching my son play! I value every single trip to training and every opportunity I get to watch him play. Thank you for the reminder to tell him this more often!

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