Why do more than 3 million parents in the U.S. choose soccer for their kids? The honest answer is when kids are 4-6 years old, soccer is one of the few activities you can sign them up for to help them develop their motor skills, social abilities, and make them a little tired so they (and you) can get a good night’s sleep.
Soon, you find that the soccer family lifestyle sneaks up on you. Your children are now 10-12 years old. You’re driving to games every weekend, you have the best folding chair in the market, you’re on parent phone trees, you’re in a group message with your coach, you’re using a soccer camera to capture your kiddo’s highlights. But despite the all-consuming nature of soccer, you stay committed because there is nothing like seeing them kick, pass, tackle, fall down, and get back up.
Tips for supporting their interest in soccer
If your child has shown an interest in soccer, as a parent, you’re going to want to do everything you can to nurture their love for the sport. However, it can be challenging to balance supporting your child’s interests with giving them the space they need to come into their own. Here are five tips for soccer parents to help nurture their kid’s love for soccer – without being overbearing. And a bonus tip for leaning on your player’s video highlights to build a connection with them around the sport.
Encourage, but don’t pressure.
It’s natural to want your child to succeed, but pushing them too hard can cause them to lose interest in the sport or burnout at a young age. Instead of asking about how they feel about a win/loss, ask them what their favorite moment from the game was. Instead of letting them know about the things they could have done better, ask them when they felt proud of themselves. Instead of comparing them to another player, challenge them to think about how they helped a teammate during the game.. Do your best to allow their passion and love for the game push them on their own.
Don’t coach from the sidelines
We know the effort it takes to attend every game. We know how good it feels to root for your kiddo when they’re doing well. We know how tough it is to see your player fall down and struggle. We also know how hard it is to contain all of these emotions. Instead of coaching from the sidelines, shouting instructions, or critiquing your child’s performance during the game, spend some time building your relationship with the coach to have more trust in their program and the process. Let your child enjoy playing the game and try communicating with them on the ride home and do your best to let your player initiate the conversation.
We also recommend using Trace to capture their game highlights and let them watch themselves back after the game. The earlier you introduce this way to learn into your kid’s life, the sooner they’ll develop a habit of self analysis.
Help your child set goals
Help your child set realistic soccer goals to steadily improve their game. Examples could be as simple as improving their ball control or scoring a certain number of goals in a season. Encourage them to work towards their goals, but also remind them that it’s okay if they don’t achieve them all.
Put effort into building a community
Building a sense of community on a youth soccer team can be a great way to nurture your child’s love for the sport. Encourage your child to get to know their teammates to help them develop empathy and improve their ability to collaborate with others on and off the field.
Encourage your player to also develop a good relationship with the coach by asking questions and asking for feedback. This helps them hold conversations with adults, develop interpersonal communication skills, and learn how to value and position themselves at an early age.
Let them make their own decisions
Allowing your child to make their own decisions can help them develop a deeper love for the game. Let them decide how much they want to practice, which position they want to play, and the level they want to play at. This will also help them take responsibility for their choices and develop a sense of independence.
One thing you can do to enable this is by helping your player navigate club pathways. Talk to your club director and coach to find out the structure of the club, what the levels are, and the options that are available to your kid.… lay it all out in front of your child and give them the gift of making decisions for themselves.
Bonus: Record their games to capture their enjoyment
Recording your child’s soccer games can be a great way to capture their enjoyment of the sport and their progress over time. By watching their highlights together, you can help your child identify areas for improvement and celebrate their successes. However, it’s important to remember that these recordings should be used as a tool to nurture your child’s love for soccer rather than to add pressure or critique their performance.
If you’re looking for an easy way to record their best highlights every game, check out Trace’s all-new PlayerFocus. PlayerFocus captures the game the way you want to watch it – focused on your child – and delivers an enhanced viewing experience that lets you zoom in and follow your player without additional work for you as a parent.
Overall, nurturing your child’s love for soccer (without being overbearing) requires a delicate balance of support and pressure. While this checklist is no guarantee that you’ll be the perfect parent throughout your child’s entire soccer career, it will certainly be a great reference to help you be the best you can be and help your child develop a lifelong love of soccer moving forward.
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