Soccer is such a game of passion for most of its fans. Combine passion for the game with the ever changing emotions of youth then you find that a challenge is presented especially in training young soccer players. The great thing about this passion for the game is that it presents an opportunity for parents to connect with their kids. Connect over things like what’s important in life, how to respond to people who may not treat you well and what to do with a problematic teammate. These are the ways in which we learn how soccer prepares you for life.
Learning about people and yourself through soccer
You learn about people and yourself and how to deal with them and control your emotions in the game of soccer. Learning about the influence of passion unchecked versus appropriately channeled. From practice and games that your hard work pays off but you also learn that sometimes you feel that it doesn’t pay off because some days we play bad and nothing seems to work. But then there are the days we score goals, complete all our passes or make saves and it feels good and you know that your hard work in training matters.
Working hard for those who don’t work for you
Not only are you learning about yourself in how hard work pays off but you learn about other people [like your teammates]. It feels good when people fight for every ball for you and your team. When they cover for one of your mistakes or encourage you vocally or with body language. But then there are the times when you have teammates who don’t work for you or the team.
When we have people on our side who are not pulling their weight because of choice, or actions its hard. You have to be careful of how you respond, because most of the time you want to go off on them [which is okay to feel that way]. But what you actually have to do is, learn to deal with it or how to motivate them and show leadership.
Talent or lack of effects everyone
It’s different than having a teammate who just isn’t fast or good at a certain skill. This brings the team performance down because, we as teammates have to cover for that person. But hey – that’s what team sports are about. If you look at the best teams and players in the world you don’t see any who are exactly the same.
The better/stronger teams usually have a team full of very different players. Having diverse talents on your team makes you hard to play against. Having one teammate who is super good at passing, another at shooting from distance as well as one who’s a beast of a defender.
An example: If you had players like Neymar playing defensive mid your team might score lots of goals, but you will also get scored on just as much. We used to joke about if there was a team full of Romario’s they would have to score off the kick off because he can’t defend 🙂
Kids are learning about adults
Kids will see the good and bad in adult behavior during sports from the negative, proud, loudmouth parents. They might not be on your team, but you will see them on the other team.
As a sports parent myself it concerns me that my kids will get a coach who curses at the kids. I’m not about sheltering my kids, but I don’t want them in that environment if I can help it. What would you do if this happened?
Communicate how to respond to different situations
Maybe think about talking to your kids before the situation could happen. Talk to them about different ways to respond and how to control the situation. If its my kid, I think I want for them to defend themselves and not let people talk to them this way.
On the contrary, it might have to be a time where the child lets the coach say these things. See their true colors and after talk to me or my wife. Either way, I think parents and kids have to be on the same page in communicating. Together decide what’s best in the situation. Remind your kids that soccer prepares you for life situations.
Score doesn’t always reflect the play
Soccer is a crazy game and the score doesn’t always reflect the way the game was played. In college I remember out-shooting a few teams 20+ goals to 1 goal and we lose 1-0. Everyone knew that we were the better team but the best team doesn’t always win. Soccer is sometimes unforgiving and you can’t explain it.
Another thing that you learn about yourself is when you are injured and you can’t play for a few weeks or months. You realize what your purpose in playing is and what level of commitment you’re willing to make. That is when you really learn how much you love soccer and just want to be out there playing with your mates.
Learn to control your emotions
Some people are way more relaxed than others, not getting emotional when they lose. For those people I recommend that you play with emotion and fight even if you’re not verbalizing it. Even when you are not that extra high energy player your passion can be what brings energy to the team. Again, soccer prepares you for life in many ways. Let it be a teaching tool.
For those players who are high energy and emotional you have to be careful. Don’t show too much of your emotion. When the game or practice doesn’t go your way, you can say or do something that could embarrass yourself or team. In other words, you must learn to control your emotions, don’t let them control you. It’s okay to get made and say something acceptable and show your emotion, but don’t let it be consistent or be a cry baby. Learn to have a ‘mask’ when your upset, because it will protect you from other problems.