How to Get Your Children Involved in Soccer
Soccer is one of the most popular youth sports in the U.S., and one of the easiest sports to learn. For parents with young children, soccer is a great way to get kids outdoors, keep them involved and active, and teach them about team concepts and working with others.
Aside from the ease of learning the game and it's many benefits, there are several additional reasons why soccer is the first sport many children try:
- It requires little equipment.
- There are a variety of positions from which to choose.
- It’s fun for all skill levels and ages.
- It gets kids thinking about endurance and coordination.
- It’s a great tool for connecting with friends and making new ones.
There are many ways to get children involved in the game. The most important and easiest one is to sign up for a team or league near you. But there are a variety of other strategies you can use as a parent to get your children involved in soccer.
Participate with Your Child
Hot Tip: The Parent's Role
Most youth soccer leagues play games on Saturdays, and practice once or twice each week during the evening. The more time you spend watching your child run, dribble, pass, and shoot, the more the game will be enjoyed by everyone involved.
Participating with your children as they learn the game of soccer is a great bonding experience, and a great way to cultivate your child’s enthusiasm for the game. By playing soccer with your children, or just kicking the ball around on the soccer field, you combine the fun of the game with learning and improving as a player.
Participating with your child can happen in different ways:
- Coaching a team
- Volunteering during practices or games
- Inviting friends to come over and play in the backyard
- Finding a net and taking turns shooting/playing goalie
Participation also means asking questions about your child’s experience and feelings about the game. Let your child tell you about games and practices, and make sure dialogue about the experiences goes both ways.
New soccer equipment and gear keeps your kids excited about the game, and can help accelerate their coordination and skills. Fortunately, the simplicity of the game makes buying soccer equipment relatively low-cost and easy.
Each piece of soccer equipment you buy for your child increases the chance that he’ll develop interest in the game. Soccer equipment can be found in most athletic stores, and can include anything from balls and jerseys to portable goals and ball return systems.
Make Sure it’s Fun
Believe it or not, the way you talk to your child about the game influences his experience on the field. Use positive words, such as “can”, “go”, and “move”. Avoid words with negative connotations, such as “can’t” “won’t”, or “never”.
The first rule in youth soccer is that the game should be fun. As the parent of a child learning the game, this means you should focus on participation, and de-emphasize wins and losses.
Celebrating successes on the field and in practice – no matter how minor – is a healthy approach for a soccer parent. This means that you should never dwell on mistakes or ask about playing time. Merely being involved with the game is a great objective for youth players.
Send Your Child to Camp
A week-long soccer camp offers great exposure to the game, helping players to develop skills and build enthusiasm for the game. They’re also a fantastic opportunity to make new friends and compete against children from around your area or state.
Soccer camps can usually be found for all ages and skill levels, and usually at a low cost for parents. They’re also a useful measuring stick to determine your child’s future in the game. Many children come back from soccer camp with a newfound enthusiasm for the game.
Learn the Game
The more you know about the rules and history of soccer, the more you can share in your child’s experience on the field. Not every parent will have played soccer before; regardless, for parents looking to build their understanding of soccer – and the challenges children face on the field – there are many great ways to pick up the game:
- Take your child to a game.
- Watch soccer on television.
- Read instructional books and guides.
- Read about the history of the game.
- Invite friends and neighbors to scrimmage or practice together.
Also, there’s no better way to increase your child’s enthusiasm for soccer than attending a professional match. The speed and pace of the game are far different in person than on television. This shared experience is a great way to make your child excited about soccer.
Attend Your Child’s Games
This final strategy is the most important one for parents. Children who play games in front of their parents are far more likely to enjoy the experience. Talking about games before they happen and reliving them afterward also helps build your child’s love of the game.