“You can’t pee on the soccer field.”
Yep, actually happened when a young man, unusually free to drop trou and urinate whenever he felt the urge, opened the faucet at the edge of the practice field while the rest of the team was deep in the waters of the sharks and minnows game. The coach addressed the issue and uncomfortably explained new things to little girls without brothers while the parent was at the mall. AT THE MALL.
“Wait, you mean I, as a parent, have team responsibilities?” (Also actually said at a parent meeting after the first practice.) Umm, yeah. I know most of you get this stuff, but the ones that don’t tend to mess things up for all of us. So, here are seven fundamentals for your role as a Little Kid rec soccer parent:
- Get the logistics right. Have them at practices, games, and any team function on time with shin guards on, ball at the ready and water.
- Meet the coach. Go up to them, shake their hand, thank them, and tell them anything about your kid you think they need to know. These people are volunteering to do something that isn’t all that easy and often are parents on the team themselves. If they ask for your help or participation in some way—just do it. If you have a younger kid coaching (college kid, etc), don’t treat them any differently. Parents do that often and it’s not cool. They don’t work for you or exist to serve you.
- Meet the parents. Lots of little friendships blossom out there. And the kids make friends too 😊
- Be at all practices and games. This is not babysitting or Mom/Dad’s Day Out. If your child is being a challenge out there (crying, uncontrollably energetic or violent), you are responsible for helping the coach out.
- Set clear behavior expectations. We had a rec soccer coach email the team at the beginning of the year and one point he made was, “reasonably acceptable behavior is an expectation and a requirement.” Felt a little harsh when I first read it, but he was exactly right. Ensuring your kid can conduct themselves well enough to at least not disrupt the experience for all the kids is entirely your responsibility. True for soccer and beyond. If a coach disciplines your child because you won’t and you get mad about it, that’s a you problem.
- Be a cheerleader. Be overly positive and encouraging of all the kids and coaches. Do the tunnel after games. Cheer for your kid and hug ‘em all the time. Try not to coach beyond the “get in there, YOURKIDSNAME”. Never, ever, instruct other kids from the sideline and never be critical or negative about anything. It’s little kid rec soccer, lighten up. And if you feel coaching from the parent sideline is needed because the coach is struggling (it happens), offer to be an assistant or a coach yourself.
- Don’t mess up the post-game snack. Understand the schedule and deliver the goods. If there is no schedule, step up and build one for the team. If you wanna be a pro, always have bottled water and packaged snacks in the car at every game in case a parent whiffs on their responsibilities.
Isn’t this all obvious? Unfortunately, no. I’d say a third or more parents are guilty not delivering on at least two of these things. Doing these things will make for a more pleasant experience for all involved, I promise.