Being a soccer parent is tough. How much do I get involved? Should I coach? Is my child in the best soccer environment possible? It can be confusing because so much of the process is out of your hands. I have three simple rules to help you manage your soccer parent mindset.
- Rule 1 – Fun first: your son is not a mini Messi! Your daughter is not a mini Mia! Let your young footballer have fun first and foremost. If they start to show an aptitude for football continue to reinforce the idea of playing for the enjoyment of the game. When they stop having fun they’ll stop learning, and when they stop having fun they’ll stop performing.
- Rule 2 – Facilitate, don’t coach: Your son or daughter wants you to be their dad or their mum – not their coach! So be a parent and not a coach. Don’t instruct. Don’t tell them what they’ve done wrong or correct them. Just facilitate their development as a player. Avoid making statements after training or matches – “You did this” or “You didn’t do that.” Just ask great questions – “What went well today in training?” is a great one to start with. “What can go better next time” is a nice follow up. Questions help them become students of the game and their game.
- Rule 3 – Give them space: If they’ve had a bad training session or match then silence is allowed. Avoid filling the conversation gaps in the car on the way home. Let them brood a bit. As long as they are displaying sportsmanship on the pitch, around their team mates and with their coaches, then give them some leeway in their home environment. If they’ve had a lousy day then a couple of hours of mood isn’t the end of the world.
As a soccer parent you inadvertently become a football psychologist. It is their soccer psychology that you have to be mindful of…at all times!