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Words of Advice from Soccer Parents

By Life Time Sport, 12/31/99, 12:00AM CST

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We asked parents what they wish they had known about soccer from the get-go—and coaches shared their tips, too.

Pick the right program for your child.

There are tons of ways to play soccer, and each will offer different playing styles, and time and financial commitments. Be sure you understand what you’re signing up for before you start. (For more on this, see Ways to Play on page 8.)

A good coach can make all the difference.

Look for a coach who can be a good role model for your child, and who is accessible, candid, and a good communicator. It’s also helpful to understand the coach’s views on things like playing time, discipline, player development, and expectations for practice and the off-season.

Cheer on — don’t coach — your child.

That is, at least when they’re at practice or a game. From the field, it can be hard to hear both a parent or guardian and the coach. Leave this job to the coach to avoid confusing the player.

Sports aren’t a financial plan for college.

Less than 1 percent of high school athletes receive athletic scholarships, and only 0.03 to 0.05 percent go on to play professionally. Encourage your child to play because he or she enjoys it, and for the benefits of being active and learning life skills like teamwork, conflict resolution, and leadership.

You can practice anywhere.

Practice will help make your kid a better player, but it doesn’t have to be formal or structured. Grab a ball and kick it around in the park, or juggle the ball on your feet in the house.

Social development is as important as the game.

Many people don’t realize that communication has a large role in soccer. Your child will talk with their teammates on the field, as well as with coaches and referees during games. This means your child will not only meet new people, but he or she will learn social skills, too.

Be upfront with the coach.

The more the coach knows about your kid, the better he or she will be able to coach them. If there’s anything you want him to know about your kid’s background, skills, goals, or struggles, be open about it.

Don’t overthink it.

In the beginning, there really isn’t a lot of prep you or your child needs to do before they can play. Sign up at SportsEngine.com, check out our Dressed to Play article and, then let the coach do the work of teaching your child how to play the game.