Soccer Parents That Think Their Child is the Best Player on the Team

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I’ll start saying: The child is never responsible for the system breaking. 90% chance its the mom or dad!

In 2018, 54% of sports drop-outs polled said they quit playing because it stopped being fun due to parental pressure. 

Moms and Dads have proven throughout the decades they are willing to pull out a lot of money to make sure their kids have a good soccer experiences.

Families in the US spend anywhere from $250–20,000 per year on youth soccer for their kids. Don’t start getting me wrong as this isn’t a mistake. Most of them that played youth sports can tell you how much of an impact they have into adulthood.

I’ve met dozens of parents that think their kid is the next Leonel Messi or Manuel Neuer. We are all proud of our children’s accomplishments both on and off the soccer field. It’s great to totally support your kid and have that extra heartbeat when they make contact with the ball. Everybody else probably witnessed it as well. Don’t say, “Did you see my son score that amazing goal? He’s really a great player.” I was speaking last season to one parent on my son’s team and he said out proud: “We would have not won if it wasn’t for my son!” Cheer on your Messi and the of the team, but let’s not overdo it.

The worst parent of all: Is him/her that thinks their son is the hot ticket to financial wealth. Whether it is getting a D1 “Full” College scholarship or signing that professional contract linking the boy to a MLS team, it’s greed plain and simple or better still… it’s dangerous.
Yet too often parents overemphasize the business aspects of sport. They act like a sports agent, managing and controlling every aspect of their little soccer players life. And this drags the fun right out of the sport.

As a former soccer player and now a goalkeeper coach, I’ve seen this happen over and over again. The father one of my academy goalkeepers (he was 11 years old at the time) demanded he took 100 goal kicks a day. He took him to the park right after school (before soccer training) and had him kick the snot out of the ball. This is something he previously enjoyed doing on his own, but once it became a requirement, he gradually stopped doing it because it became a chore, something that his father demanded and not something he did for himself and for fun.

Parents with experience in a sport should not overrule or disagree with the coach’s judgment. You are a parent, not an assigned coach. LET HIM DO HIS JOB!

It is the parent’s responsibility to handle their concerns like an adult. They can do this by asking questions that allow them to take control in a supporting role. Concerns must be made first by email or you can arrange a meeting AFTER training and certainly not before or during!

For example, “I’m trying to understand your reason for not playing some of the reserve players last game. Is there anything we can be doing at home or that my boy could practice on weekends that could lead to more playing time?

For example, the coach and athlete should have a relationship that isn’t interfered with by parents. Don’t speak for your child if he has a question for the coach. Encourage them to initiate the conversation, especially if it’s a difficult one. 

There is a lot of parent ignorance. Parents either didn’t play soccer or they didn’t play the sports at all. It’s not a mandatory requirement of a good soccer mom or dad to have played the soccer, or any sport at all for that matter.

Your kid isn’t getting the playing time he deserves or is not placed on the team you want him to be. It can’t be his fault, right? He’s the greatest soccer player in the world! So naturally it’s the coach’s fault, or someone else’s on the team.

This pathetic scenario plays out too often. Blame for lack of playing time or poor play is assigned to others and not your boy. This teaches your son to blame others and not reflect on his performance. In most cases it will lead to a very bad attitude and negative confrontation with the individuals to whom blame is being assigned by the parent.

Many parents do not understand that the child, the soccer player needs to control their efforts, the work load, being in very good condition, knowing the plays off the back of your hand, being a great teammate and being a great leader. If you do those things, then you are going to get a great chance in putting yourself in a position to get playing time and play on the best team.

Your boy can’t start from the top: It is accepted that to learn something, we have to experience it all the way. If we never experience losses, disappointment, or some kind of failure, we can’t develop the mental skills to deal with these emotions. We don’t go through the experience and, as a result, we cannot learn how to manage our expectations. Many parents don’t want their little soccer player to go through this, not knowing that it will come back and bite them down the road.

Don’t be that parent. It’s not about you. It’s about the kids.

Rick Zucchi
UEFA (FIGC) Goalkeeper A License

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