Coaching High school for 10 years, several years of ODP and coaching youth academy soccer, I have been around the sport a lot. However, it has always been as the coach or the player. I have always watched as a coach from a critical viewpoint; however, as I was watching my daughter’s soccer camp at 6 years old; I had a renewed perspective.
What I realized the day I got to be the parent instead of the coach:
1. Driving to games, camps and practice can actually be considered quality time. I talked more with my husband and daughter more this week then I have in months just in the car!
2. Exercise really does make everyone feel better. Sometimes kids on a break can get cranky and bored . Waking them up early and getting daily exercise actually helps with moodiness. My daughter, Kenzie, attended morning camp, and it helped her channel some of her energy at the start of each day.
3. It’s kinda cold sitting on the sideline , but it was nice to just sit down and watch from the viewpoint of a parent instead of the critical eye of a coach.
4. Parent small talk : it’s fun to mingle with other parents and hang out and talk soccer in a nontechnical way. In fact , we were laughing about the kid that never listened and gave the coach a run for his money .
5. Most importantly - Praise from other adults for our kid. A few simple words of encouragement and my daughter, Kenzie, is determined to go back to soccer camp next year. She was selected as Camper of the Week - and as she stood beaming in front of the other campers, I thought of her “emotional tank” and how it was filled with a few simple words.
She worked hard at soccer camp, but the reassurance of her coach made her want to work harder.
All in one day, I switched gears and went back to practice today as a coach: I started with high school practice, then 2011’s U-7 academy practice, and followed up with 2010’s U8 practice. I tried to remember what I wanted to see and hear as a parent. I also remembered what a few positive words did for my daughter ... and how I can use it for my own players. I’ll have several opportunities to make a positive impact as I coach various teams and ages.
I remembered the PCA model that explained the ratio of specific truthful praise to constructive criticism as 5:1. This is overwhelming in a short amount of time; however, the PCA positive charting worksheet online has a great way to highlight and encourage specific things you want to see from specific players. It also has room for notes to include specific feedback for things you see in a game or practice. Each note is addressed to a specific player. For youth soccer players, I think this tool will be very helpful to coaches giving written constructive criticism and positive feedback.