Freeport Soccer: Soccer Parenting

Soccer Parenting 101

For best results, parents should memorize and use the following.

The 6 Things Parents Should Say to Their Sports Player ...

by Bruce Brownlee, University of Georgia

A lot of soccer parents with good intentions give a 30 minute lecture, covering all the players supposed deficiencies and giving playing advice, in the car on the way to each match. The kids arrive far off their optimal mental state, and dreading the critique they are likely to hear, whether they want it or not, on the way home. Kids who are massaged in this way tend not to play badly, they just tend to not play, possibly to avoid making mistakes.

For best results, parents should memorize and use the following:

Before the Match or Practice

1. I love you
2. Good luck
3. Have fun

After the Match or Practice
1. I love you
2. It was great to see you play
3. What would you like to eat?

Soccer Parenting 102

Understanding soccer is a breeze when compared to understanding the children that are playing it.

Each age brings unique problems. Cognitive, emotional, physical and social development will vary a great deal within the group. While this variety poses a challenge to the coach there is one factor that will bring all of the children together. One element that will reach everyone. They want to have fun.

Enjoyment is the unifying motive. Some children don't want to learn. Some don't care about winning. A few have no interest in hard work and one or two can't remember which goal they're attacking. In spite of all of their different agendas they all want to have fun and play a game, that is what brings them there.

They also want to be children. Too often the coach sees them as an extension of his vision and they become puppets to it. The time spent at practice and at the games is a part of their childhood. It should not reflect the adult world. Some adults forget this and their expectations take the fun out of the experience.

Growth in the learning process can be measured by the child's contribution to the game in the two main moments, own team in possession and opponents in possession. The greater the contribution that the child makes the farther his learning process has developed. A child with a strong internal desire to master the game will succeed to the best of their abilities. A child that needs constant external support will not. He will only grow as far as he can be carried. Their level of motivation is one of their most important limiting factors.

In order to make a contribution it's important for them to learn how the game unfolds and to have an impact on it. Soccer is a dynamic and fluid game. Pictures and decisions change in a second. This active element creates situations that drills do not adequately address. It involves the child in reading situations, analyzing them, making predictions, arriving at decisions and finally acting on them.

There are three factors that will determine how far a child can go in their development.

Talent. These are the God given qualities. Great athletes share similar attributes and if the basic package is missing there is nothing a coach can do. Competitiveness, personality, motorskills, intellegence or instinct among other factors must already be present.
Motivation. This comes in two types, internal and external. The internal motivation is what is important. Without a strong internal drive to master the proficiencies an athlete is working on talent alone. While the coach can provide some external motivation it will be of limited use and of short duration.
Enviornment. This is the one area that the coach has the greatest impact on. A talented child with a strong internal drive placed in the correct enviornment has the greatest chance to succeed to the best of their abilities.

"Football is best when it's instinctive, when it comes from the heart.
You talk about things after; in the game you just play."3
Barry Hulshoff

Soccer Parenting 103
Role Of The Parent

The role that parents play in the life of a soccer player has a tremendous impact on their experience.

With this in mind, the National Soccer Coaches Association has provided some helpful reminders for all of us as we approach the upcoming season. If you should have any questions about these thoughts, please feel free to discuss it with us, the coaches.

1. Let the coaches coach: Leave the coaching to the coaches. This includes motivating, psyching your child for practice, after-game critiquing, setting goals, requiring additional training, etc. You have entrusted the care of your player to these coaches and they need to be free to do their job. If a player has too many coaches, it is confusing for them and their performance usually declines.

2. Support the program: Get involved. Volunteer. Help out with fundraisers, car-pooling, anything to support the program.

3. Be your child's best fan: Support your child unconditionally. Do not withdraw love when your child performs poorly. Your child should never have to perform to win your love.

4. Support and root for all players on the team: Foster teamwork. Your child's teammates are not the enemy. When they are playing better than your child, your child now has a wonderful opportunity to learn.

5. Do not bribe or offer incentives: Your job is not to motivate. Leave this to the coaching staff. Bribes distract your child from properly concentrating in practice and game situations.

6. Encourage your child to talk with the coaches: If your child is having difficulties in practice or games, or can't make a practice, etc., encourage them to speak directly to the coaches. This "responsibility taking" is a big part of becoming a player. By handling the off-field tasks, your child is claiming ownership of all aspects of the game preparation for as well as playing the game.

7. Understand and display appropriate game behavior: Remember, your child's self esteem and game performance is at stake. Be supportive, cheer, be appropriate. To perform to the best of their abilities, a player needs to focus on the parts of the game that they can control (fitness, positioning, decision making, skill, aggressiveness, what the game is presenting them). If they start focusing on what they can't control (condition of the field, the referee, the weather, the opponent, even the outcome of the game at times), they won't play up to their ability. If they hear a lot of people telling them what to do, or yelling at the referee, it diverts their attention away from the task at hand.

8. Monitor your child's stress level at home: Keep an eye on the player to make sure that they are handling stress effectively from the various activities in his life.

9. Monitor eating and sleeping habits: Be sure your child is eating the proper foods and getting adequate rest.

10. Help your child keep their priorities straight: Help your child maintain a focus on schoolwork, relationships and the other things in life beside soccer. Also, if your child has made a commitment to soccer, help them fulfill their obligation to the team.

11. Reality test: If your child has come off the field when their team has lost, but they played their best, help them to see this as a "win". Remind he/she that they are to focus on"process" and not "results". Their fun and satisfaction should be derived from "striving to win". Conversely, they should be as satisfied from success that occurs despite inadequate preparation and performance.

Soccer Parenting 104

How You The Parent Can Help The Player Perform At The Highest Level

How Parents Can Help the Player to Perform at the Highest Level - by Ric Granryd, Director of Coaching, AUSC

Most parents are justifiably concerned that their child performs well on the field. However, the parental behavior that demonstrates their concern is often disruptive to the performance of their child. The following principles will help you work with your child's coach and help your child perform at the highest possible level:

1. Enjoy soccer. Most coaches try to make the games and training fun. Those who do produce peak performers because having fun develops and sustains motivation. If the fun leaves the sport due to pressure from the parent to achieve, the player is very susceptible to performance problems. Your child should be playing soccer because he/she desires to do so. Certainly a parent can encourage initial participation because the child may not have any experience in the sport. But after that, the player should develop his/her own reasons to play, separate from the parent's reasons. There are far too many instances of parents who offer "bribes" or "bonuses" for their child's performance. This is risky business, and we would rather have the player play (and achieve a high standard of play) for personal reward rather than for an artificial, material reward.

2. Provide challenges, not threats or punishment for poor performance will ultimately hurt the childís performance and damage self-esteem. Fear is a short-term motivator that will gradually lose its effect and may cause long-term problems. Inherent in a threat is the belief that your child is not capable. However, a challenge (with no punishment for failure) shows your ultimate belief in his/her abilities. A threat is also distracting to the player because it places the focus "after the game" as opposed to "during the game." Please do not use guilt, threats, or fear to motivate your young soccer player.

3. Build high self-esteem. High self-esteem leads to improved performance, while low self-esteem results in poorer performance. Try to recognize your child's good play and not focus on the negative. Parents have been known to link their affections to performance Don't let this be you!!!

4. Encourage a process focus. Often, children "choke" due to their parent's inadvertent preoccupation with outcome versus process. A player's head and heart filled with expectations/thoughts of we need to win or I must score 2 goals simply causes distraction. As a parent, refocus your comments and conversation toward the process of training, competing, and playing the game.

5. View failure as a learning experience. The "freedom to fail" allows athletes to let it all "hang out," while the worry of making a mistake causes most athletes to play tentatively. Failure is an opportunity to learn and improve. It is feedback.

6. Encourage automatic non-thinking. Characteristic of peak performances is that the athletes are not thinking, they almost seem to be on autopilot, focusing on the
experience itself. They use their knowledge and abilities by instinct and are truly "at one" with the entire game and its environs. Giving your child something more to think about can be counterproductive and thinking just slows everything down! Try to provide comments, pre-game and post-game, that do not entice the player to try too hard (have fun out there, you look ready to rock, etc.).

7. Be relaxed. Also characteristic of peak performances is that the athlete is relaxed and focused. Parental comments or pressure serve only to interfere with this principle.

Expectation of Parents
* Be a living example of sportsmanship, fair play and a positive role model for players both on and off the field.
* Let the coach, coach.
* Provide positive encouragement to the team, coaches and players on and off the field.
* Treat your coaches, referees and opponents with respect and courtesy at all times.
* Don’t place pressure on players to win. Players create enough pressure on themselves.
* Accept the results of each game and encourage players to be gracious in victory and to turn defeat into victory by working towards improvement.