For many, soccer is simply a ‘kick in the grass’. However, the grassroots rule for Alberta Soccer is ‘NEVER’ kick the ball!
So how do you play then? Soccer is a game to be played with purpose. The purpose is for one team to keep possession of the ball and score in their opponent’s goal. So the components of maintaining possession are to shoot, pass and dribble the ball.
For many years soccer fields have been enclosed with parents and spectators screaming and encouraging players to simply ‘kick’ the ball – to get it either away from one goal or into another. In this crude vision – the ball ping-pongs from one part of the field to another and the game is usually left to chance – the team who kicks it successfully goalbound wins.
If coaches, parents and players could change the vocabulary of soccer, to omit the word ‘kick’ from one of intent, it could make a dramatic shift in how we perceive and play the game. Watch the professional game, very rarely is the ball seen to be merely ‘kicked’ down field! Passes are often stroked with care to allow the receiver to continue the play, instead of wrestling for control. So at your next game, bite your lip and encourage good play as opposed to kicking – see the difference it makes for all in our game.
So remember it is “good pass”, “great shot” and let’s “play soccer”…
Being a soccer parent is tough, it includes many tasks; taxi, nutritionist, counsellor, equipment manager, and cheerleader. However, what is the most important role that children wish from their parents?
Experiential research amongst 1,000, 7-year old children in Alberta soccer programs, found that 80% of children would love to see their parents simply PLAY soccer with them.
Within an age of increasing inactivity amongst younger children, one colleague suggested a drastic measure to reverse this trend – stop parents from watching! How is this possible as it is often a requirement that parents attend soccer practices with their children? Well, this proposal suggests that more parents could and should get involved and play with or coach their children, not sit and watch.
Soccer must be fun to keep us playing, whether as an adult or child. So parents are encouraged to share, nurture and develop a passion for playing. Can you shoot as many goals as your young soccer star? How about trying a simple soccer slalom or being the goalkeeper who saves the penalty?
If you enjoy playing, then why not coach and make your child’s development more engaging and fun. Coaching can be as fun as play, and we can all coach since many activities have their origins in childhood activities, such as ‘tag’ and ‘what’s the time Mr. Wolf’.
So, the first role of any parent is to encourage their children to play, and the most effective method of this, is for the parents to also play.