Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Here are five fundamentals to coaching your own child in soccer. Ditch the over-the-top act for a style that will keep your kid happy and engaged.
Level the playing field
Sit your child down and ask if you can "join the team." You’ll probably get an emphatic "yes." The point is to let the kid know you’re both on the same side.
When critiquing play, always lead by citing something commendable ("Great job dribbling up field!") before giving feedback ("Now try to keep your head up"). Finish positively with another encouraging comment ("You’ll get it, keep working hard!").
Look beyond your kid
If you’re not a coach, hang out with other parents. Their comments (like "That was a sweet pass" or "They’re crowding the ball") can help you lose the tunnel vision for your child and see the whole team.
If you see your child’ motivation starts to drag, whip up a game at home to focus on skills while still having fun. For kicking strength, tack up a target on a brick wall and see if he can hit it with the ball. For ball control, offer them ice cream for stringing together five juggles.
[Editor’s note: Intrinsic rewards (praise, acknowledgement, fulfillment from hard work) are better long-term motivators than extrinsic rewards, which tend to lose their positive affect in time.]
No kid responds well to public scolding, so if yours is acting out or not being a team player, pull her aside; then you can switch to parent mode. Explain why it’s important that she accept the consequences for her actions just like any other teammate does. Don’t make a scene. If she’s not receptive, say you’ll finish the talk at home – but try to avoid mixing at-home disciplinary tactics with on-the-field ones.
Sources: Jimmy Nielsen, goalkeeper for Sporting Kansas City; Larry Lauer, Ph.D., of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at Michigan State University