When it comes to habits, personality development and behavior, kids often imitate what they’ve heard or seen from their parents. With soccer, kids look to the sidelines for support and approval to stay motivated and play at their best.
To give kids the emotional support they need to perform at their best, follow these six rules for a safe soccer environment:
1. Kids are #1
The most important part of youth soccer isn’t winning or learning to play like Lionel Messi. Make sure the kids have a wonderful time before anything else.
2. Fans cheer, coaches coach
“What the heck was that Billy!?” and “JUST KICK IT OUT!!!” aren’t the types of messages parents should be yelling to kids on the field. When it comes to coaching, leave it to the one person who’s responsible for that task: the coach. A parent’s job is to motivate kids to perform at their best.
3. Respect referees
If you show respect for the refs, so will your kids. If you yell at the refs, criticize calls or become aggressive when something doesn’t go your team’s way, your kids will do the same. Always set a good example of respect!
4. No alcohol, tobacco products or controlled substances
Keep the playing environment clean and safe by waiting until you’re away from the field and the kids to use these products.
5. Leave no trash behind
When you leave water bottles, snack wrappers or other litter behind, not only do you make the groundskeeper’s (or other volunteer moms and dads!) job tougher, but you also send a message to your kids that they don’t have to clean up after themselves either.
6. Set an example of good sportsmanship
Teach your kids to congratulate the opponent and to build comradery with not only their team, but with the other team’s players as well.