The biggest task in getting your child involved in any type of activity is preparation. Unfortunately, most parents sign their children up for activities without really knowing what they are getting themselves into. But, not to worry, because it is very easy to research the activity on your own. New sport parents have a list of things they should look into to prepare for their youth player’s future sport career.
First, you will want to familiarize yourself with the rules of sports. Even if the sport is not necessarily “your thing”, your child will be excited to talk to you about their practices and games. Knowing how the sport is played will make these conversations enjoyable and productive for both of you. This will also allow you to help develop your child’s skills, as you will be able to explain rules that they may not understand. New soccer parents should be sure to research all aspects of soccer rules, including goals, goalie possession, fouls, offsides, free kicks, throw-ins, corner kicks, hand balls, the meaning of the different lines, etc.
Other Activities and Opportunities
The next thing you will want to familiarize yourself with are the extra activities that your child will have available. For instance, teams often participate in tournaments, which could last the whole day or even the whole weekend. During the summer months, many youth camps are also available for extra training. There is also the possibility of more competitive, travel teams. There may be some added costs associated with these options.
Time and Other Costs
Time and costs are two more areas that new sport parents should prepare for. Most youth teams practice 1-2 days per week. Then, the team will have their games (usually) on a Saturday or Sunday. So, expect that your child will participate in soccer at least 2-3 days per week. Remember, there is also the possibility of tournaments. Your child may also want extra practice with you throughout the week.
Costs associated with youth sports can be split into three different categories; team registration, equipment, and other activities. Signing your child up for a team usually comes with a small fee. This helps cover the cost of tryouts, team equipment, uniforms, and anything else the team may need.
The coaches and local organizations will supply equipment, such as sports balls, for practices and games. However, players and parents must supply their own personal equipment which includes required items (practice clothes, shin guards, and cleats) and non-required items (sweatbands, wristbands, water bottles, etc.) The sports organization will supply the uniform socks for game days, but parents need to get their children socks for practice.
All of this probably seems intimidating to new sport parents such as yourself, but it is worth it. The costs and time associated with youth sports are minimal compared to the skills your child will take away from the experience. Not only will your child learn how to play the world’s most popular sport, they will also learn about teamwork, friendship, responsibility, and communication.
Communication is also a very important factor in your role as a new sport parent. Your children will look to you for advice about everything associated with being on a team, from soccer rules to getting along with other players that they may not necessarily enjoy playing with. At some point in your life, you will have been through that same situation. Explain to your child your own situation and explain how you resolved it. If you were not able to resolve it when you were their age, let them know what you wish you would have done differently. Always be calm and supportive to your child, even when you are correcting them for negative behavior related to the team.
You should also be actively communicating with your child’s coach throughout the season. They will be able to answer related questions for you and explain their decisions that you may not understand, or even disagree with. Voicing your concern to the coach could also lead to changes which will promote a positive team atmosphere. You should also feel free to voice your child’s concerns to their coach, since children are often hesitant about speaking up to adults. This could also develop the communication between the coach and the players.
Lastly, do not ignore the other parents. Even if you only see each other one or two nights each week, strike up conversation. Chances are that your children will want to stick with this sport. They will become very close with their teammates and you will benefit from relationships with the other parents as well. You can help each other understand the game, coaching decisions, and voice concerns or frustrations. By doing this, not only are you creating possibly lifelong friendships for yourself, but are also helping to create connections between families, children, and teammates. Your active participation will propel the team forward and help your child’s athletic and social development.