How to be a great soccer parent

Parents play a big part of their child's soccer experience; by setting an example of good sportsmanship, having fun, and doing one's best, parents can make their child's experience a great one.  Some Good Links...
 Positive Coaching Alliance
 Responsible Parenting
 Positive Parenting from US Youth Soccer.
 Top Ten Things Soccer Parents Should do

15 more sideline tips

Here are some links that will help you understand AYSL's philosophy of coaching each age group.

The goals by age division recommended by the VYSA (Virginia Youth Soccer Association) are given here.

A Brief Summary

Children at this age are too young for "organized" sports, so the the focus here is all on fun.  The kids play fun games with soccer balls and pick up some soccer skills along the way. VYSA U5 lessons and drills
What parents can do:  Stay for practices and games, this is a very "hands on" division, we need lots of parent volunteers (we aren't a daycare facility).  Encourage everyone, keep it fun.  Cheer for everyone. More parenting links

U6--Much like U5, but the kids have slightly (ever so slightly) longer attention spans and coordination.  Emphasis is on developing individual skills, a basic understanding of the game, but not tactics or abstract thinking.   Kids are still a bit young to fully understand the concept of "teamwork".
What parents can do: Keep encouraging good play, encourage kids to do their best, cheer for everyone.  More parenting links

U8--Really the beginning of "organized" soccer, learning the basic concepts of soccer; corner kick, goal kick, indirect kick, correct throw-ins, and minor fouls.  Small-sided games, emphasis on lots of touches on the ball, learning to control the ball--don't just boot it down the field--shoot.  No keeper.  No defenders planted like trees in front of the goal.  Referees optional.
What parents can do: Cheer for everybody, don't coach from the sidelines, don't be overly critical of anyone, including the referee.  Learn some of the rules of the game so you can provide specific praise when your child (or team, or the other team) does something well.

U10--Building on skills learned in U8, more emphasis on team strategies, learning to control, receive and pass the ball.  Goalkeepers, but no offside calls. Travel programs start at the U9 age division for children wishing for more competitive soccer.
What parents can do: Don't coach from the sideline, the kids will tune you out anyway, or worse, you'll simply distract them.  Cheer for all good play, not just your child, or your child's team.  Don't criticize the referee; they are only human and everyone makes mistakes, they probably know more than you do (if not, you should be refereeing the game--it's a paid position!),  and they are probably quite young.  Parents yelling are the biggest deterrent to retaining youth referees, and it sets a poor example as well. 

U12--Building on U10 skills--improving technical speed, develop skills under pressure (time, space, opponent)--building on technical skills.  Keeper, and offside calls.

Referees--Yes, most of them are kids, too, many are siblings of our players.  Learning to be a good referee is an ongoing process, just like learning soccer skills.  Referees can and will make mistakes.  Recreational soccer is where most referees start their training.  Criticizing and yelling at the referee is just as detrimental as criticizing and yelling at the children.  You are setting a bad example for your child, and contribute nothing to anyone's experience on the field. Obnoxious parents are the #1 reason why most young referees quit--despite the fact that referees are paid to officiate games.  There is a critical shortage of referees!!  Better yet, sign up for a grade 9 referee course and help!


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