The number of kids that are participating in Soccer is on the rise. Inflated pay packets and the celebrity lifestyle make it very appealing to the young fragile mind. Children as young as 5 are participating and competing in Soccer offered in a variety of organised programs available at club, community and school levels.
Is it the kids that are drawn to the “Hollywood lifestyle” or are the parents dreaming up a plan that will inevitably end in tears? Adults (parents) who are involved in youth soccer as coaches, officials, administrators and even sponsors, must understand that the kids are drawn to soccer because it is fun. A young child has no need for money or fame and does not need to be payed to play and associate with his new team mates.
Adults involved in youth soccer should provide an atmosphere and structure the environment so that the children enjoy their soccer experience. If the children are very young, they should be allowed to choose their own positions on the field. Teaching the fundamental skills should be taught through non-competitive games to ensure that every child is given every opportunity to develop systematically.
At a very young age, winning and losing should not be the main focus of the kids. Although winning and losing is part of Soccer, a focus on results rather than performance or development can be detrimental. When children lose or make mistakes, they tend to feel like failures and perceive themselves to have less ability than others. With this belief the child loses confidence an may even lose interest in the game he loves. Add to this, the pressure put on children by their parents and you have a recipe for disaster and a formulae that will end your child’s career by the age of 13.
Coaches and parents should not place emphasise on the end result, but concentrate on the development of the player. Is the player improving? Is he enjoying his training? Is the player developing friendships and is he learning social skills? Parents should help children realize that personal growth, effort and achievements are more important than the outcome or final results. High effort and the accomplishment of personal goals can provide a sense of success for the child. The child does not need to be compared to another child because children obviously develop at different rates.
It is extremely important that coaches always treat children equally. If a child is ignored or neglected, the child’s self confidence and self image will deteriorate. Every child needs to be given equal opportunity, attention and playing time to eliminate the feeling of inadequacy. If a child feels inadequate, his self esteem will drop which will lead to the child dropping out.
With youth soccer becoming increasingly popular and the number 1 sport for kids, coaches and parents need to help children learn the basic values of life first. Help children learn how to deal with a lose in a way that it doesn’t affect their self-confidence and doesn’t destroy their social skills. With the right guidance children will learn that hard work and determination will eventually lead to their goals. Successful goal setting and the correct mindset will enable the youngsters to grow up into great men whether it will be on the soccer field or in life in general.
Finally, the most important message of this post is to make sure the children are having fun and are treated equally and given equal opportunities. The sacrifices and efforts by adults (coaches, parents) should be designed to help children enjoy their life. Notice how i didn’t say Soccer, Soccer should always be secondary when compared to a childs happiness and standard of living. Make your players or children smile and with time the other variables will fall into place.