Parents Guide for Soccer
1. Don’t put yourself in your son’s or daughter’s place out there. The kid on the field isn’t you, Dad. If he makes a hand-ball, it’s his hand-ball; if his goal wins the game, it’s his goal. Glory or Grief, it’s his ballgame. Whether you were and All-American soccer player or – more likely couldn’t make the church team even if the preacher was your father, has nothing to do with your kid’s performance. Yet, I once heard a parent tell a child who made a mistake, “You Embarrassed Me.”
2. Don’t talk about the “Big Game” all day. Chances are the “Big Game” isn’t as important to your soccer player as it is to you, and that’s healthy. The youngster will usually keep the game in proper perspective – keep pressure to a minimum – if only you will, Dad.
3. Don’t criticize one of the other players even if the errant kid decides to read his library book on the bench. That not only unseemly; it’s dangerous. Because chances are the offending player’s mother is smoldering in the next lawn chair. She will scratch your eyes out.
4. Don’t tell instructions to your player when it’s his time to shoot the ball. That’s the coach’s job, and besides, the kid can pick your voice out in the tumult. It only makes him more nervous. Shout only general encouragement.
5. Don’t start analyzing your child’s performance right after the game. All the player wants is Peace, Quiet, and a Slushy.
6. Don’t Criticize the coach, even if it’s apparent that Sparky Anderson he isn’t. Listen, this guy is going to some dust, pot-holed elementary school field after work and on Saturdays to kick soccer balls in the hot sun. Before you complain think: “Am I ready to give up all of my valuable free time to a bunch of pre juveniles?” Then shut up.
7. Don’t complain when the great coach plays everybody and even goes with different starters every game – right down to the child who has a pathological dread of the ball.
8. Don’t Abuse the referee, Dad. Baiting the high school and college kid who’s calling the game for six bucks isn’t calculated to inspire respect for authority demanded from your child at home and at school.
9. Don’t decide your player has a future with the USA Olympic Team. Likewise, don’t write off that baby face either. Kids, I’m told, mature athletically at different paces. Some are better than they ever will be again. Some of the worst players will develop into varsity athletes with time.
10. Don’t forget to praise your child for simply performing. Don’t over praise a good play, either. And, above all, don’t ever dwell on an error or failure to deliver the “Big” goal – Especially not with scorn or anger. You’re not Vince Lombardi, Pop, and your kid doesn’t play for the Packers. Your child is 12, at most.
11. Don’t forget to praise all the players after the game, especially if they lost.
12. And please, Dad, (Mothers aren’t nearly as bad about these things) don’t take it so seriously. Even the “Big Game” isn’t the Gulf War, and an answer to World Hunger or even the World Series – Let It Just Be Fun!