By Tim Bradbury, Director of Coaching Instruction, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
It is an exciting time as a coach and player educator. US Soccer, with both coach and player development programs, have made positive and definite moves to carefully consider all aspects of what it takes to become a first class coach and player. In short, they are taking a more holistic approach than the past as part of this shift in emphasis documents entitled “Key Qualities of” are being presented.
The idea is really a very simple one. You consider a role, for the sake of this example, that of a youth coach, and consider all the key qualities that you believe they must have or try to improve in in order to be successful in fulfilling their duties.
To break down this example from a parent perspective, I think most soccer parents would list the following as the vital key qualities of a youth soccer coach:
1. Able to make learning the game fun.
2. Able to clearly communicate with players.
3. Have a deep knowledge of the game and its techniques and tactics.
4. Display a desire to constantly improve as a teacher.
5. Have some ability to demonstrate skills of the game.
6. Be inspirational and dynamic.
7. Be patient and understanding.
8. Have the emotional fortitude to handle losses and wins without drama.
9. View their players as human beings and not little professional players.
10. Have some understanding of the basic psychology of their players.
11. Have some rudimentary understanding of sports science (stretching, rest,) as it pertains to their child.
In attending several US Soccer training events over the last 12 months, we have carefully examined key quality characteristics of elite players, coaches and, of course, instructors. These documents really are a great learning tool for anyone who has the time for careful self-reflection and is willing to look at their performance through a critical lens. They help you identify areas of strength and weakness and can bring into acute focus those areas in which we most need to improve.
So it was on a recent long journey to yet another instructor development session that I decided that it may worth applying the logic of the “key qualities approach” to the realm of being a youth soccer parent. I invite all soccer parents reading this to complete the key qualities assessment below. In doing so I would ask that you avoid the opportunity for self-applause and instead approach the task with a view of what can I learn about myself? Give yourself a quiet moment with no phone, PC tablet or TV to distract you and perhaps complete with a vision of how the ideal soccer parent would behave. Compare yourselves to the highest ideal and be completely honest.
Key Qualities of a Soccer Parent
How are you performing as soccer parent? To get a sense of where you stand, please assess yourself on the following questions.
5 = strength
1 = are in need of development
Describe in less than two sentences why you scored yourself after each question.
Hopefully you completed the exercise and have taken another step to doing all that you can to be a supportive and helpful parent. Now consider what other steps you can take in an attempt to ensure your child enjoys a lifetime of healthy sport participation.
Please share this document with all the team parents on your son's or daughter's team. Together, we can create the tipping point that is so desperately needed.