March 20, 2013
Introduce Yourself to the Coach (at first team meeting or practice):
• Make sure your coach knows you and your child; it’s important.
• Share any significant information an educator should know about your child.
• Create a relationship, so you can communicate easily over the course of the season.
• Offer to assist in communicating with other parents and team activities.
• Get the coach’s contact information.
• Loop the coach in – Let coaches know prior to the game if your child has any injuries or is feeling under-the-weather.
• Prep all injuries – Help kids bandage, wrap or protect any pre-existing injuries prior to games or practice.
• Remember, children learn by example – If you look like you’re having fun on the sideline, there’s a better chance your child will have fun on the field.
• Keep cheering positive – Noise from the stands makes the game more exciting for players, but make sure cheering remains positive. Cheer for good plays on both teams!
Supportive Soccer Sideline Cheers:
• “Nice pass up the field!” (Instead of saying “nice kick,” this recognizes players are trying to maintain possession by passing the ball to teammates.)
• “Patient at the net!” (Sometimes players get excited when they get the chance to score.)
• “Great cross in!” (When players play or serve a ball from one side of the field to the goal mouth, celebrate their effort.)
• “Good movement, team!!” (When the chips are down, this may give your team some motivation.)
• “Looking great, keep up the good work!”
• “Great teamwork, we’ll get ‘em next time!”
• “Nice D!” or “Nice save!” (Give your defenders and goalie some love too; they don’t always get as much recognition as high-scorers.)
• Encourage, don’t pressure – Mistakes are part of sport. Use inspiring words that help players focus and stay motivated. Parents can stress trying (giving a good effort) over scoring goals. Use positive reinforcement and banish negativity.
• Maintain your role as an observer – You might not agree with every coaching decision or call on the field, but your child shouldn’t know that. Allow officials and coaches to do their jobs without getting involved.
• De-emphasize winning and losing – The goal of youth soccer is to create a passion for the sport and a desire to learn new skills. No matter which way the game’s going, stay positive and excited. Encourage players to respect and acknowledge their own hard work, and that of their competitors.
• View the game as one big learning experience – Your child is not only developing skills as a soccer player, he or she is learning how to interact with others and develop as a person. Learning teamwork and respect on the field pays dividends in life.
Interacting with Peers
• Make friends – Introduce yourself to fellow parents on the sideline. You probably have a lot in common, like tracking down that one pesky shin guard the night before the game!
• Deal constructively with competitive parents – If you don’t approve of another parent’s sideline etiquette, address it in a calm and gentle manner or speak to them privately. But remember, you can only control your own sideline behavior, just as your child can only control his or her behavior on the field.
• Create a team community – Don’t be scared to talk to other parents about organizing a pizza party after the game. Interaction and fun off the field will only strengthen bonds and camaraderie on the field.
• Build a team on the sideline (create a positive fan zone for your team.)
• Carpool: kids love to connect with different people in their social circles.
• Create a snack/goodie rotation schedule for player families.
• Take charge and organize post-game activities: pizza, ice cream, sleepovers.
Game Time Challenges
• Stay calm during on-field injuries - When your child falls to the ground with an injury, let the coach manage the situation. You’ll know from your child’s reaction if you need to be on the field with the coach. With any injury or emergency, remain composed so your child stays calm.
• Don’t be a sideline distraction - Often, players freeze or hesitate when they hear parents call their names. So just give them a “thumbs up” when they look at you. This creates a bond, while still allowing your child to focus on the game.
• Help kids deal with an overly competitive/intense coach
Talk with your child about the words and phrases the coach uses. Ask if he or she feels uncomfortable in any way. If your child feels uneasy discuss why people/coaches get so intense and competitive about sports. Some coaches are just loud. This communication style may cause some players to become introverted. If your child reacts this way, discuss strategies for blocking out or managing stressful input and focusing on positive play.