Increasingly in discussions with League Presidents, Club Presidents and many parents, the topic that is most popular is that of player development. Often the issue that comes quickly to the foreground is that most parents are not aware of the issues they will face as a soccer parent and many feel ill-equipped to deal with many of the scenarios they face. The list below is presented to provide soccer parents with a foundation they can use to make good decisions on a go forward basis.
10. They do need a good night’s sleep before they play (at least 8 hours) and studies show that sleepovers, bright lights and video games prevent them getting the rest they need.
9. Formal stretching of any type, static or dynamic done before the growth spurt period does more damage than good.
8. They need appropriate fluids and food that their bodies can take and turn into energy before they play. (Typically at least 2 hours before a warm-up)
7. They enjoy making decisions and it is very hard to do so when a set of coaches and parents are shouting the next instruction on as they try to play.
6. The most important factor in their ability to fulfill their soccer potential and master the skills of the game is their coach. They need you to ensure they have a qualified person and suitable environment.
5. They get embarrassed when their parent is the loudest shouter on the sideline and it is humiliating when this voice shouts at the referee and criticizes other players.
4. Their number one reason for playing is to have FUN, not to win, so help it be a stress-free environment.
3. Playing too many games in a day is physically detrimental and stops all the games being FUN. However many bumper stickers parents need, the science proves their bodies can only do so much.
2. They want and need to play in games and on fields that are developmentally appropriate. If the field and goal are too big it simply stops being FUN.
1. The car ride home must stop being a time to review all their mistakes and shout about the loss. Make a promise now that you will never talk about the game again as you drive them home.
With an average of 70% of players stopping playing by 13 years of age, all parties involved, coaches, league organizers, team managers and, of course, parents, need to take a long look in the mirror at the collateral damage our behavior is causing. The responsibility lies with us all and none of us should rest until the 70% that we are losing continue to play. If we can at least adhere to the 10 points above, perhaps it will at least be a start.