Well not hate, necessarily, but according to a survey reported in the Wall Street Journal, what kids dislike the most about soccer is the car ride home. Too often, the first thing a parent may say after a game is a critical remark, an accusatory question or offer “you should haves!” to their kids. This can cause any player to lose interest in playing and start to dread anything to do with participating in sports.
Parents often don't realize the impact of their words and forget that kids seek approval and want to impress them during games. When players feel put down, they can lose their love for soccer. Consider the following when talking to your kids about their performance on the field:
- Be their biggest fan. Make sure to maintain a positive attitude and environment for your child by cheering and showing them support. After all, a child is trying their best to impress their parents, so show them they’re appreciated!
- Focus on the positive. Great shot! Nice dribble! Amazing pass! Wow so close! These are all great ways to express to kids that they’re doing a good job and it will motivate them to try even harder.
- Let them make mistakes. Making mistakes is the best way to get better. Don’t try to correct the mistakes by yelling directions from the sideline. Instead, let them try their moves and work on them next time you’re on a field together.
- Encourage goal setting and measure progress. Aside from staying active and having a great time, kids strive to become good soccer players. Encourage players to talk about ways they can improve and offer methods or ask a coach to help them improve those things.
- Don’t talk about negative things on the ride home. There are much better ways and places to communicate what your kids could have done better than questioning their actions during the car ride home. They are still learning the game and are likely aware that they didn’t have a great game. Try taking them to a park over the weekend and work on things to help improve their game in a fun, loving environment instead.
- Don’t offer excuses. Putting blame on a ref, the field, weather or a coach for a bad performance may offer short-lived comfort, but this attitude can backfire. Kids will fail to take accountability and will instead learn to blame other factors when things don’t go their way.
- Don’t yell instructions during games. This causes confusion and annoys other parents, coaches and players (including your own!). A player develops best when they are allowed to make their own decisions on the field, figuring out what works best and working on those things at practice.
- Don’t criticize refs in front of the kids. Always remember that AYSO refs are volunteers and have given up their time to make the game possible. Kids will learn from their parents so be aware that yelling at a ref is one of the things they will pick up. And pro soccer players can tell you that yelling at the ref DOES NOT make them change their mind!