Warning signs

Your son or daughter…

  • is scoring too many goals;
  • is faster than pretty much everyone else on the field;
  • is one of the tallest and/or physically strongest players on the field;
  • responds too often with ‘ok’ when you ask how the practice or game was;
  • looks uncomfortable on the field;
  • seems to be excluded mostly from play by other players;
  • never really gets a buzz from playing the game;
  • often blames the referees or his teammates for outcomes of games.

The coach…

  • consistently gives risk-averse instructions to the youngsters;
  • punishes and/or scolds mistakes;
  • plays some players much more than others (at ~U12 and below);
  • complains about the referees pretty much every game;
  • wants to be liked (too much);
  • spends time with some families outside soccer;
  • doesn’t bring the same commitment that he/she asks of the players (and parents);
  • rarely if ever goes the extra mile;
  • isn’t working with each individual youngster during practices and games;
  • takes on another commitment and asks parents and kids to be flexible to make this work.

Parents on the sideline…

  • respond enthusiastically to ‘big kicks’;
  • celebrate wildly a goal scored because the nine (or ten or eleven….) year old goalie made a rookie mistake;
  • encourage overly aggressive/physical behavior;
  • get annoyed with youngsters for not passing quickly;
  • rarely recognize, celebrate, and encourage creativity and skills;
  • complain about the referees every game;
  • celebrate red cards as a badge of honor;
  • forget that it’s 8, 9, 10, 11…year olds playing.

I’m sure there are more, but these are hopefully food for thought. Keep in mind that nobody is perfect and that the significance of these warning signs depend on the objectives for your child.

Lifelong player and student of the beautiful game in Germany, England, and USA. Volunteer futsal coach and USSF referee.

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