Top 5 tips for new youth soccer parents
So your kid has signed up for soccer. Congratulations! You’re about to begin an amazing adventure with the potential for tremendous payoffs, whether your child plays for a single season or into adulthood.
Venturing into the unknown sometimes can be a little scary, though, for kids and parents. From the practical to the philosophical, here are five great tips for making sure your child gets the most out of youth soccer.
1. Have fun!
This is the most important thing to remember. Soccer is a game. It’s not life or death. Yes, some losses will feel just awful if your player continues to compete. Chances are, though, that a few years down the road your child will look back on even those experiences with overall warm memories.
Whatever happens on the field, frame it in a positive way. The most important question to ask after a game is, “Did you have fun?” The most important feedback you can give is, “I just love watching you play.”
2. Make sure the cleats and shin guards fit properly.
There’s not a lot of youth soccer gear, but what there is will be like nothing your child has worn before. It’s important that cleats and shin guards fit properly so the player isn’t distracted by discomfort. At Todd & Moore, we’ll make sure that you leave with equipment that works for your child.
If your child is sensitive to clothing textures, try a practice run in cleats and shin guards before practice. It might save you a meltdown later. For players who have trouble keeping their laces tied – and most younger ones do – we suggested a pair of Sweet Spots to help.
3. Remember that soccer is played with the feet.
Unless your kid is the goalie, he or she won’t be using hands. This sometimes is tough for beginning youth soccer players to remember. You can help by kicking the ball around in the backyard. It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous – just gentle taps to get the player used to the idea that in soccer a “touch” is with the feet!
4. Make sure your player stays hydrated.
Until young players have gone through a practice, they won’t realize how parched they’re going to be after running up and down a soccer field.
Make sure your player takes water to every practice and game. Picking up a water bottle when you buy cleats and shin guards can help cement the notion that it’s required gear.
5. Listen to your coaches. They are there to help.
This can be a hurdle for parents, who are used to being the ones to whom their kids turn, as well as for players, who have always looked to Mom and Dad for guidance. Like so many things in sports, though, this is great practice for life.
A child who learns to respect and respond to a soccer coach is building a great foundation for relationships with teachers and, on down the road, bosses.
A parent who encourages a child to develop that relationship helps the child take an important developmental step.
No doubt, it’s hard sometimes. Younger players can become upset about everything from playing time to the feel of the shin guards. Chances are, the coach has handled this problem before.
Parents at times will question a coach’s decision. It’s best to hold that thought during practices or games and quietly take the coach aside afterward.
Remember that coaches want their players to improve and have fun, too. You’re on the same team.