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How you can help your child love soccer
The best thing you can do is foster a love for soccer in your child, so he or she continues playing and enjoying this positive activity for a long time. Here are some ways to accomplish this:
- Be supportive and positive after games and practices. Most times your child will not play his or her best. That’s how it goes. Understand this soccer journey is a marathon, not a sprint. How a player performs in a U10 game is not a good indicator of how he or she will perform come high school. In fact the large majority will no longer be playing by soccer by then. So don’t stress when your child has a “bad” game, and don’t worry about fixing every “problem” immediately. There’s a long, long time for all of that. The best thing you can do after a game is point out all of the things your child did well. That way, you’re teaching them the right things to do while keeping things positive and happy. For example, say your child was not aggressive, but she had one play in which she hustled back on defense and won the ball. Rather than telling her “you need to be more aggressive,” tell her “that was a great play when you raced back on defense and got the ball back for your team!” She will feel good and want to do more of that.
- Be positive from the sidelines. Watching your child play soccer can be stressful. You want them to do well, and you want the team to win. It’s frustrating when things don’t go well (which happens a lot). So it’s very tempting to shout instructions. Please don’t do this! For one thing, it distracts the players (not just your own child). We want them to play free and learn from their own decisions…and, yes, mistakes. We also want them to enjoy the game, which might not happen if they’re feeling stressed by parents yelling. Another problem with shouting instructions (or worse, negative comments) is that it detracts from the positive environment that we want at our soccer games. Have you been at a game where parents are hooting and hollering, chastising players (“do you want to be here???”), and even laughing at each other’s negative comments? It’s an ugly scene and exactly what we don’t want to subject our children to. Let’s be happy the kids are outside getting exercise in the context of a positive activity. Let’s make sure they feel good about that rather than playing soccer = getting yelled at.
- Look for opportunities to make soccer fun. If your child wants to play club soccer, consider the coaching style, camaraderie, and overall atmosphere of the team(s) he or she is interested in. Play soccer together, watch soccer together, do something fun after games, etc.
- Help your child improve. Play with him or her, if you’re up for it. Encourage them to watch games on TV, instructional videos on YouTube, etc.