A Parent’s Guide to Youth Soccer (USYSA)
Why Do Players Quit?
1. Criticism and yelling
2. No playing time
3. Over-emphasis on winning
4. Poor communication
5. Fear of making mistakes
7. Not learning
How to Be Supportive Soccer Parents
• Give consistent encouragement and support to their children regardless of the degree of success, the level of skill or time on the field.
• Stress the importance of respect for coaches through discussions with their children, and highlight the critical nature of contributing to the team and its success.
• Serve as role models, see the “big picture” and support all programs and all players.
• Leave coaching to coaches and do not criticize coaching strategies or team performance.
The greatest gift that you can give to your children throughout their sporting involvement is support. When asked what it is that they would most like from their parents in terms of support, most children suggest encouragement and acceptance of their choices.
Four Red Flags for Parents
1. Living Out Dreams -A parent who is continuing to live personal athletic dreams through his/her child has not released his/her child to the game.
2. Too Involved -If a parent tends to share in the credit when the child has done well in sport or has been victorious, the parent is too involved.
3. Trying Too Hard - If a parent is trying to continue to coach his child when the child probably knows more about the game than the parent does.
4. Too Serious - A parent should realize that he is taking everything too seriously when they:
– are nervous before his/her child’s game.
– have a difficult time bouncing back when the player’s team suffers a defeat.
– make mental notes during a game so they can give his/her child advice at the conclusion of the game.
– become verbally critical of an official, coach, or player.
Being a Good Soccer Parent
• Encourage your child, regardless of his or her degree of success or level of skill.
• Ensure a balance in your student athlete’s life, encouraging participation in multiple sports and activities while placing academics first.
• Emphasize enjoyment, development of skills and team play as the cornerstones of your child’s early sports experiences.
• Be realistic about your child’s future in sports, recognizing that only a select few earn a college scholarship, compete in the Olympics or sign a professional contract.
• Be there when your child looks to the sidelines for a positive role model.
Athletic participation must be healthful, positive and safe for everyone involved, conducted in an environment that teaches values and ethics, strengthens the community, promotes competition without conflict, and enriches the lives of the athletes.
Here are six things you can do to show your child (and other parents) what being "a good sport" means:
• Cheer for all the children, even those on the other team. What a surprising difference it can make on the sidelines and in the stands when parents make an effort to applaud a good effort or a fine play -no matter whom makes it.
• Talk to parents of the other team: They are not the enemy.
• Be a parent, not a coach: resist the urge to critique.
• Thank the officials -Find a few moments to compliment the officials for their hard work after a game (especially if your child’s team loses) you will be rewarded with the pleasure of seeing a surprised smile in return.
• Keep soccer in its proper perspective: Soccer should not be larger than life for you. If your child’s performance produces strong emotions in you, suppress them. Remember your relationship will continue with your children long after their youth soccer days are over. Keep your goals and needs separate from your child’s experience.
• Have fun: That is what the children are trying to do!
• Don’t care who wins or loses, they are having fun and that is the objective; NOT winning or losing. Most kids are more concerned over what the end of game snack will be rather than the outcome of the game. Note: Winning can become more important as the child develops; for that reason, the Waldorf Soccer Club seeks to form balanced teams to create equal opportunities to win and lose.
Dealing with the Coach
• Let the coach -coach
• Ask the coaching philosophy, team rules and guidelines
• When to ask questions -Don’t ask questions during a game or in front of a small group that you wouldn’t want asked of you.
• Ask the coach how you can help, during practice and games –Get involved.
• Be supportive - Always role model positive behavior, support the program.
What about Referees?
Everyone sees the play differently.
• The main goal of the referee is to make the game safe and fun for the children.
• Being a referee is not as easy as it appears.
• Remember, many referees are brothers and sisters of soccer players or soccer players themselves. Others are fellow parents trying to just help youth soccer players have FUN!
• Recognize that the referee is doing his/her best. It may not be what you saw, but the goal is to let the game be played so that children can have FUN! Referees deserve respect and support too!
• Helping the referee to call the trip or a foul only confuses children.
• Disagreeing hurts you child’s respect for the referee, and may hurt the view of the referee towards your child’s team.
• Criticism causes referees to quit rather than become better. Many referees quit due to being yelled at by parents.
•As you cheer for the players, cheer for the referees too.
“Parents and coaches need to remember that if officials can hear profanity and other verbal abuse directed at them when a call goes against the team, the children on the field can also hear it.”
What Can I Expect?
• Children differ greatly due to age, gender and maturity
• Soccer is “the game for all kids” and that means there will be all types of kids playing together
• Most volunteer directed programs are conducted by parents and coaches who know they will be involved for only a few years while their own children are involved
• 85% of volunteer directed youth sports are coached by parents with a child on the team
• Less than 10% of the volunteer coaches in the United States have had any type of coaching education
What Does My Player Need?
1. BALL - Each child should have his or her own age appropriate ball and bring it to team practice. Your coach will tell you what size ball you need.
2. SHIN GUARDS - An absolute requirement for all games and practices.
3. SOCCER SHOES -Recommended, but not required. Soccer cleats must be rubber or molded plastic (no metal cleats), and no less than 3/8 inch in diameter. Baseball or football type shoes with toe cleats, square or rectangular cleats are not legal for soccer.
4. WATER BOTTLE (with child’s name on it) -Fresh water should be available to your child at each practice and game.
5. A desire to learn and have FUN!
Basic equipment for soccer parents
• Comfortable lawn chair –comfort is important because you are going to be spending a lot of the time sitting in that chair watching youth soccer players having FUN!
•Comfortable clothing –you will out in the sun, the rain, the heat and the cold. Dress to be comfortable so you can sit in that chair and watch youth soccer players having FUN!
•A sense of humor and joy at watching youth soccer players having FUN!
Relax and Prepare for FUN!
Thank you for taking the time to read The Parent’s Guide.