I am a soccer mom, and I LOVE it.
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we are on the soccer fields. Six practices, three games. We basically live at the fields. And, honestly, even though the schedule is crazy and the parking is impossible, I love being a soccer mom.
Of course, there are good days and hard days, and some days when it’s not my favorite. But I love that this is something I get to share with my kids. I loved playing soccer as a kid, and it’s so cool to watch my kids love something I love. But sometimes it’s tempting to get a little too into the game and take it to a FIFA level that just isn’t appropriate for youth sports. (Seriously?! They don’t call offsides in U6!?)
Here are five simple rules I’ve learned for being a (passionate) soccer mom:
1. Yelling is fine, but make it encouraging.
Nothing is more painful than standing on the sidelines as a parent berates their child (or yours) for poor playing. Yelling on the soccer field is a totally normal and totally acceptable part of cheering — but build up the players rather than tear them down. “Great play!” “Look for your teammate!” “So-and-so is open!” And if the other team’s goalie makes a spectacular save, acknowledge and cheer, even after you groan about the missed shot. Remember, this is a game, and they are kids. Cheer for them, and feel free to yell, er… cheer, loudly.
2. Yelling is fine, but don’t yell at the referee.
This is true for any sport you play, but in youth soccer leagues in particular, the refs are often tweens and teenagers who are still learning. It’s easy to get caught up in the passion of the moment, but as parents, we get to model good sportsmanship and respect. The same thing goes for blaming the referee for a loss — very, very rarely does a bad call lose you a game. There are many other factors that contribute to a loss. Teach your kids to be respectful and, even while acknowledging poor calls, to still take responsibility for their own game.
3. You are still in charge of your kid.
If your kid is being a little punk, disrespecting the coach, or exhibiting poor sportsmanship, that’s on you. Don’t march onto the field or eject your kid — that’ll definitely raise some eyebrows — but absolutely have that conversation at halftime or after the game. If it’s at practice, pull them to the side and have the chat then. Most of the coaches are volunteers and/or underpaid. Make their job easier by backing the coach up in disciplinary measures and by teaching your kid to be a team player rather than someone who thinks the game revolves around them.
4. Make friends with the other parents; you’ll be spending a lot of time together!
We joke that we spend half our time on the soccer fields, but it’s actually not far from the truth. Bring snacks, warm beverages, and chairs to share — and grab a team dinner after a long day of games. Days spent on the fields are much more fun with friends! (And carpooling to away games is much easier when you know other parents!)
5. Always dress in layers.
It doesn’t matter what season it is, it’s always hotter or colder than you think it will be during the soccer season. Your kids will be running around in shorts and T-shirts all season long, but in the mornings you will want the full sleeping-bag coat and gloves. But by the next game, a tank top and shorts will suffice. The spring-fall weather in New England is weird like that. Layers are your best friend.
Hope to see you on the fields sometime soon!