Keeping Youth Soccer in Perspective

Player Health and Welfare

Having a son or daughter decide they want to play soccer can be a wonderful thing.  Your child can have incredible experiences and build lifelong friendships through participation in soccer.  The time spent with your child on the way to games, at tournaments and before and after practice can provide a great opportunity for your family to connect and bond with one another in our otherwise very busy world.

While there is great potential for the game to provide fun for your player throughout their lifetime, there is also some potential for things to go a little “haywire” if we allow ourselves to lose perspective on the game and our place in it. 

Soccer can be a great tool to help teach children about things like commitment, hard work, enjoying competition, responsibility, dealing with people, and many more, but it can also take on an importance that becomes a little bit larger than life a times.  To help keep things in their right places, you may want to reflect on the following ideas from time to time:

  • Youth sports in general and youth soccer in particular is about the kids who are playing, not the adults coaching or watching.
  • Regardless of the competitive level, soccer is about fun, challenge, skill, and enjoying the game for its own sake
  • Investment of time and/or money is an investment in becoming a professional player or getting a college scholarship, it’s about the enjoyment and personal development of the players

Now, ask yourself these questions, and be honest with yourself when you answer:

  • Is my son/daughter playing for himself/herself or for me?
  • Do I consider my child an athlete first and a person second?
  • Am I encouraging my player or pressuring him/her?
  • Does my son/daughter want success in soccer as much as I want it for him/her?
  • Am I critical of my child’s play on the car ride home or at the dinner table after a game?
  • Do I show the same affection for my child after a loss as after a win?

The desire to see your child be successful and happy can be overwhelming.  The emotion involved can be blinding in its intensity.  If you answered the questions above honestly, you will already know if there are aspects of your relationship with your child and the game that need to be examined a bit.  As you move forward through your life as a soccer parent, it’s healthy to periodically reflect on your expectations of your child and your approach to sport-any sport. 

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