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The Parents Guide to Youth Soccer

The Parents Guide to Youth Soccer
Youth soccer provides a healthy activity for children through recreational programs. These programs focus on fun and deemphasize winning at all costs. Every child is guaranteed playing time and the game is taught in a relaxed, comfortable, and fun environment. Our mission at Ancient City Soccer Club is to foster the mental, physical, emotional, and social growth and development of our youth through the sport of soccer at a wide variety of ages and competitive levels.  Our overriding goal is to make the game fun and to develop in all of our players a lifelong passion for the sport.       
Introduction to Youth Soccer
Kids love soccer because it is FUN!!!!
            -From a very early age children love to play with a ball.
            -Soccer is a simple game, played with a ball, where you have teammates and a few simple rules.
“Real Soccer…equals 2 Feet + 1 Ball…The rest is your Imagination.”
The basic rules for soccer are that you share the ball with your teammates; you try and keep the ball away from your opponents and score a goal; you must play fairly; and everyone gets a chance to play with the ball.
Basic Soccer Equipment for parents:
            -A comfortable lawn chair for games and practices
            -Comfortable clothing-Clothing for all weather conditions as well as an umbrella in case of rain.
            -An enthusiastic and positive attitude.
            -A sense of humor.      
Why Do Players Play? (From US Youth Soccer Education Program)
  1. To have fun.
  2. To be with their friends.
  3. To make new friends.
  4. To improve and learn.
  5. To feel good.
  6. To wear the stuff.
Obviously, winning did not make the list of reasons why our kids play, so as parents it is vital that we make our reasons for supporting them the same as their reasons for playing.
What a Supportive Parent Looks Like:
  • Be sure to base your support and encouragement not on their level of success but on the fact that you love and support them for who they are.
  • Leave the coaching to the coaches and stay away from criticizing coaching decisions and strategies.
  • Continually emphasize the importance of your child having respect for themselves, the referees, their coaches, teammates, and opponents. Make sure you practice what you preach!!!
  • At all costs, avoid putting pressure on children about playing time and performance.
What Does Your Child Need To Play?
            -A soccer ball: each child should have an age appropriate ball that they bring to practice.
            -Shin Guards: These are required for all practices and games and should protect the shin and ankle.
            -Soccer Shoes(cleats): The studs or cleats must be rubber, metal, or molded plastic and they must be round.
            -Shirts, Shorts, and Socks: Soccer socks go over the shin guards (many players wear two pairs of socks).
            -A Water Bottle: It is important to have fresh water available.
 Now that your child is ready to play, there are a few guidelines that will make it a great experience for you and your child!!!
Guidelines for Soccer Parents:  (From US Youth Soccer Education Program)       
  • Have reasonable expectations.
  • Cheer!!!
  • Relax and let them play.
  • Yelling Directions = Distraction.
  • Communicate with the coaches.
“The greatest gift that you can give to your children throughout their sporting involvement is support. When asked what it is that they would most like from their parents in terms of support, most children suggest encouragement and acceptance of their choices.”
                                    Australian Sports Commission
“Adult spectators, coaches, and league administrators are guests at the children’s games. We are guests because if no adult attended, our hosts, the children, could still have a game.”
                                    Douglas Abrams; University of Missouri-Columbia Law School
Four Emotional Needs of Players (Douglas Abrams; Villanova Sports Journal, 2002)
            -Children have four basic emotional needs in organized sports.
1.      To play without unhealthy pressure to win imposed by parents and coaches.
2.      To be treated like children, not miniature professionals.
3.      Adult role models whose sportsmanlike behavior helps make participation fun.
4.      To play without adult imposed pressure for financial gain inspired by professional or big-time collegiate sports.
Signs That You Are Taking Soccer Too Seriously:
  • You are nervous before your child’s game.
  • You have a difficult time recovering from a game your child has lost.
  • You make mental notes during a game so that you can give your child advice during the drive home.
  • You become verbally critical of an official.
Top Reasons Players Quit:
  • Criticism and yelling
  • No playing time
  • Over emphasis on winning
  • Poor communication
  • Fear of making mistakes
  • Boredom
“Most children play to have fun and be with their friends. They do not play to entertain the adults, boost the adults’ egos or improve the family’s social status in the community.”
                                    Douglas Abrams; Villanova Sports Journal, 2002
            We are excited about what is in store for your child as they experience first-hand why soccer is known as the beautiful game. We hope that this is only the beginning of many wonderful experiences for both you and your child playing the game of soccer. We will see you on the field!!!! 

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