Soccer parenting

Last weekend was my kid’s last soccer game of the “season.” Spectating in 43°F, rainy weather is much more miserable than biking in the same. At least with biking, I can hit the metabolic equilibrium and stay warm. As a bonus, I can expectorate and maintain my cycling game face (e.g., grimace).

All of the practices and games I’ve sat in on have been on murky grass fields carved between poorly drained, flat areas. Today’s game was on hard-packed sand and started out lopsidedly. The other team, accustomed to playing on this fast surface, kept trying to pound the ball into the goal, but was unable to do so. As the game went on and rain continued, they got tired and it was an even match.

I’ve been impressed with the coach. Not only does he have to manage a gaggle of seven year-old girls, each of whom are easily distracted by flowers, butterflies, mud, cats, grass, sand, frogs, lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals and fruit bats and large — basically anything other than that Buckminster ball rolling at them — but he also manages parents’ expectations.

Like any parent, I want my kid to excel and, hopefully, have more athletic talent than I exhibit. However, it’s important that I remind myself that soccer’s about my daughter having fun, not some latent hope that my genes are Olympic calibre, just that I should have spent less time reading science books and more time running around. I can see some of the kids absorbing competitiveness from their parents, asking what the score was at the end. We don’t keep score for a reason.

Some parents played soccer when younger and Think They Know The Rules(™). The coach was diplomatic in telling them to butt out, and don’t try micromanage from the lawn chair on the sideline. Surprisingly, this takes a lot of burdon off of watching the game. He also put the referees in perspective: they’re volunteers, often early teens, who may need a gentle nudge from time-to-time. People have responded very well to this.

At the post-season pizza party, he reemphasized these points, and also told us to expect kids to fluctuate in talent as their bodies change. This year’s slow kid may be the speed demo next year.

1 thought on “Soccer parenting”

  1. I strode those soggy sidelines from my son’s first season at age 7 or so, up through his freshman year of college. There were good games and bad games, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. He made it to P1, won State, and then lost interest his first year playing in college. Seems that girls became a higher priority.

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