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What Parents Should Look For in a Youth Soccer Program

Soccer remains a popular sport for children, and there are many options to choose from when it comes to what program to join. With numerous programs offering club teams, what is the best way for parents to choose one for their son or daughter?

Tom Roe, an assistant director of coaching at Northwind Soccer Club in Chicago, has spent over a decade coaching with various clubs in the Midwest. He believes there are certain things parents should look for when deciding on what program their child should join. 

Roe, a native of England, believes the number one criteria for a parent should be to get a feel for the coaches at each club and what their coaching philosophies are.

Every club has different strengths and weaknesses. For children who are younger, just learning the basics of the game and having a good experience are vital. That means playing with others who vary in ability since the objective is to build camaraderie and have fun.

“Children need to be put in the right environment for them,” Roe said. “If your kid is just starting, doesn’t have a lot of experience and doesn’t have a lot of skill, I think putting them in an environment in which they are able to learn, they are able to have fun and they are able to compete against people around the same level is vital.”

Of course, competition can get stiffer even at young ages, and there are very competitive clubs for such players. That doesn’t mean that such an environment is good for everyone. It makes sense to have a solid gauge of your child’s talents before seeking such a situation.

“If your kid has a lot of potential, a lot of skill, a lot of drive … you need to look at a club that is gonna be a little bit more competitive and is gonna be a little bit more intense for kids,” Roe said.

It is also important that parents learn to gain trust in their coaches and to understand that the coach has to be allowed to do his or her job.

“Let the coach coach,” Roe said. “I know every parent has their kid’s best interest at heart, but you have to make sure that you are saying the same things as the coach does to the kid. And if you don’t agree with what the coach is saying, you’ve got to talk to the coach about that; don’t talk to the kids about that.

“Because what happens is you start creating conflict between what the kid is being told and what you are telling them, and then the kids gets confused about what they’re supposed to do. That becomes frustrating because then the kid is trying to please two people.”

Expectations should also be tempered no matter how talented your youngster is, Roe said. Remember that playing soccer or any sport is supposed to be enjoyable in your child’s growth and development and treat it as such.

“Regardless of age, the big thing is it still needs to be fun so that that they love doing what they are doing whether they are highly skilled, or they are not skilled at all,” Roe said.

From GameChanger and Santosh Venkataraman

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Youth sports, Coaches and Parents, sport parents, soccer, youth soccer