I recently saw a billboard used by a university that said, “There are no easy-A’s – just like the real world.” I loved that because the sentiment was so true. People may want the easiest route but in the end they’re ill-equipped to succeed when it matters. Success requires a lack of selfishness – kids (and parents) need to be aware of the others they play with or against, because they’ll have to have that same awareness as future employers or employees for example. Note: This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Why is soccer etiquette important?
Soccer played (& taught) properly teaches kids self-respect. It elevates self-awareness (which helps their long-term understanding of consequences on and off the field for when they’re older), and models respect for others. So many different people play the game and we can learn so much in that.
Respect for self
If you have no self-respect then others won’t respect you either. How do you demonstrate self-respect? Stay fit, be on time, allow the game to stay on the field, be prepared, and don’t be selfish. Also if you win [or lose], if others make mistakes, then respect them by leaving the game on the pitch along with any intense feelings of competition.
At the end of the day, you’re all fierce competitors. This will not only elevate your own feelings of well-being but will garner you more respect from others.
Respect for the game
Everyone should learn the rules of game (see FIFA Rules of the Game). Players should share the ball and don’t be a spotlight [ball] hog. It is fun to do moves and try things, but respect the players on your team who are making runs off the ball to get open. Work hard for each other, not just yourself.
There are soccer and other sports parents who can get heated. If this is you please try not to curse and argue with other parents or coach. Don’t verbally discourage any of the kids on the field, that’s not cool.
Notes for new soccer parents
Soccer etiquette applies to you too. Below are just a few examples of things I commonly see:
1. Encourage more effort as opposed to ability. If a kid doesn’t do something right, yet tried hard then encourage them in that! Don’t limit your encouragement to shots-on-goal, but include their never give up attitude.
2. If you can’t say nice things, don’t say anything at all. Some parents think they are quite when criticizing, but you’d be surprised who can hear you.
3. Don’t be that parent who complains to the ref EVERY game ALL game long. I know refs make big mistakes, but like the players and coaches, we all make mistakes. Let’s be good examples to the kids.
4. Leave the personal drama at home. If you have an uncomfortable home situation but are both present at the game then remember why you’re there [for your kid] and show unity as parents.
5. Try to not carry on a full conversation on the phone during game time.
Respect for others = soccer etiquette
This is very important for players to understand and it includes not seeking to injure others. Depending on where you live, your children might be exposed to many other languages and cultures. Soccer is a great place to learn about others and how to have a common purpose and get along well.
In addition, think about the perspective of others and when mistakes are made don’t point out your competition in their mistakes. A great example of this was just seen in the Women’s World Cup when an English player scored an own-goal. Millions of fans and other professional players from around the globe had compassion for her, realizing that everyone makes mistakes. Above all, respect for others will go a long way.
Play soccer with anyone, anywhere
One of the coolest things about soccer/football/futbol is that you don’t even have to speak the same language. I played on a few professional teams, where the coach or even players didn’t speak the same language as myself.
After playing for a living, I traveled to Guatemala with Gateway Global to help serve others through soccer. I conducted a soccer camp in the mountains of Guatemala. The people didn’t even speak Spanish, they spoke what’s called ‘Quiche’, therefor communicating by speaking wasn’t easy. With body language and facial expressions we were able to make it work great.
My point is in soccer/futbol you don’t have to speak the same language. It’s a quick understanding that if you want to learn from somebody who knows what you don’t know you can. Or if you want to simply just play the game you can. Watch, hear, see, learn, feel & understand the game.
Roles of soccer players
For a very well-rounded perspective on the roles of the player, the parent, the coach, and spectator one of the better lists I have ever read can be found on the Australian soccer club’s website: St. Augustine’s Soccer Club. If you’re looking to establish some rules or teach your child what to expect I would encourage you to check their list out.
In conclusion, remember the game is to be FUN and to be an avenue through which kids are taught how we most want them to be, not how we assume they’ll end up anyway.
Secret Fast-Track Soccer Development
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