1. Let the coach be the coach. Be respectful of their style. Don’t criticize. Build them up. Coaches are doing their best and need encouragement. If you do need to speak with the coach, be sure to set up a time away from the field at least 48 hours after a game. Never do this in front of your child, the team, or other parents.
2. Encourage your child to work on the things they can control: their effort and attitude.
3. Create a positive, supportive atmosphere that encourages your child to maximize their potential - both on and off the field.
4. Give players space. Don’t camp out next to the practice field. Let them practice and make mistakes in an anxiety-free environment. Nobody likes to be micromanaged.
5. Do not coach from the sideline during games. This creates confusion for players and actually stifles their development and decision making. It is not helpful.
6. Model sporting behavior. Respect opposition and officials, congratulate good play by both teams. This sets an example for players and other parents.
7. Steer post-game conversations away from the score. Examples: What went well? What didn’t? What did you learn? How are you going to respond?
8. Keep it fun! Ensure your child is enjoying their soccer experience regardless of the level at which they are playing. You can still encourage them to be competitive without it being too intense and serious. I have seen too many young players quit the game because of the pressure often put on them by parents. Youth soccer gets too serious too soon. Keep things upbeat and lighthearted.
9. Think Big Picture. Statistically, very few soccer players receive college scholarships or get pro contracts. If they do, then great! Yes, let's encourage our players to strive to win and be competitive; however, more importantly let’s make the most of all the life lessons and teachable moments that soccer presents us with.