Parent's Guide

About This Guide 
The intent of this guide is to set expectations for parents about our South County Soccer League program. We will share some of our thoughts about youth sports, insight about how our program is structured, and information to our approach. We hope you will take the time to read this and share your thoughts with us.

About Youth Sports, and Winning

There are some disturbing headlines concerning youth sports out in the world. Today's society has changed considerably from days past. Sadly, the days of a pickup game somewhere in the neighborhood is mostly gone and often the only youth sport offerings available are the 'organized by parents' kind. Adults have different ideas of how a sport should be managed. They impart parent rules, and adult thinking. Sometimes this is good and sometimes this is bad.

One of the worst attributes an adult can bring to the situation is undue stress about winning and performance. Children are all unique, especially when it comes to the diversity of physical and mental development. Winning and performance are very lofty goals for a child who is struggling just to learn and master something new. Most children are not mature enough to handle that type of pressure but they are programmed to achieve for adults who demand of them. Kids who innocently came out to play soccer with their friends come to realize that if they don't contribute to the win then they are a failure. This is a twisted and incredible turn of events.

Any parent that imparts pressure to perform in youth sports, for the sake of a college scholarship for example, is missing the point. Quite simply a child wins when they participate in an activity that challenges them physically, mentally, and socially. This is not to say that we should not encourage our children to succeed. Of course we should, but the 'win or you are a loser' message is intolerable. The truth is, a child learns just as much, often times even more, from a loss or a mistake. Now we'll share with you that these comments are very narrow minded and purposefully antagonistic to illustrate a thought. Thankfully not every adult coach is evil but the winning aspect is more prevalent then you would think.

If the previous comments have not stirred your emotions then perhaps this fact will. It would be wonderful if we nurtured a 'Mia Ham' from our program but facts reveal that only 1 in 100,000 children actually make it to the level of a professional sports team. Insisting that a child has what it takes at a young age is just misguided. Please keep these thoughts in perspective and learn to support your youth player in a healthy way.

From the USSC Web Site
"At the youth and junior levels, however, there is a set of fundamental principles that should be considered by anyone coaching soccer. The starting point of these principles is that young soccer players require a certain amount of uninterrupted play, which allows them to experience soccer first hand. These young players should be allowed the opportunity to experiment, and with that, succeed and fail. A coach's long-term goal is to prepare a player to successfully recognize and solve the challenges of a game on his or her own. It is vital that the coach approaches soccer with this in mind. " 

To learn more click here or go toussoccer.com.

The Program Focus 

 

If one is not going to teach a player to win, what will they teach?

Instead of focusing on winning at all cost, we will place the emphasis of this program on mastery of the game. The funny thing about mastery of the game is it translates into an undertone of the lessons of life. Analytical skills, physical agility, communication, teamwork, personal pride, confidence, enthusiasm for adventure; these are all side effects of mastery. Each one of these attributes, and many more, are all heightend simply by participating in team or individual sports.

Of course mastery does not translate nor equate to drill after drill after drill. While soccer skills are important, the development of the mental aspect of the game is just as critical. The player should not only understand how to do a throw in, over time they should be able to comprehend what the best strategy is in that particular moment for executing the throw in.

Soccer, while steeped in tradition, is an evolving sport. A recent recommendation for young players in youth soccer is to let them play uninterrupted, uncoached, soccer so they can learn the game on their own terms. It has been said that the best players in history have evolved from situations where no formal structure was imparted, just the ability to play and learn.

This is not to say that we will forgo the fundamentals. The truth of the matter is that we will provide age appropriate training, well planned practices that emphasize the fundamentals, and ample free-form scrimmages. We will strive to keep games short sided (that means smaller numbers of players) so each player gets as many touches on the ball as possible while providing an age appropriate approach at every level in our program.

In short our goal is to allow the players plenty of time to learn, to be creative, and to master the game.

The Parents Role 

Yes, you have a role in soccer. Quite simply your role is to partner with your child to ensure they enjoy the experience. We are counting on you to help them to understand the rules, provide encouragement, explain to them what commitment means. Foster good will toward others, and by all means get involved.

On the physical side of things, be a responsible parent. We all have challenges for our time and conflicting commitments to honor. Still, nothing can frustrate a coach more then giving up their own personal time only to find that four players have shown up for practice. Be on time, offer support wherever you can, and be a part of the solution not the problem. This organization is managed by volunteers. They are giving their time up for the betterment of the community and the program that their children participate in. They are not professional soccer administrators. They will make mistakes, and make bad calls some times but the reality is that they are working hard, putting in long hours, and deserve credit where credit is due. The best way to honor that commitment is to support the program in any way that you can.

Some Simple Rules you should know about...

A parents guide wouldn't be complete without sharing some less 'touchy-feely' things about SCSL expectations...

- When at a game, parents are required to sit on the opposite sideline of the field from the players. It is not acceptable to sit at the endlines. This is a violation and a referee will be instructed to remove you from the area.

- Please do not coach from the sideline. There is nothing more confusing to a player then when they are assessing a strategy and there is instructions being screamed at them from well intentioned parents. Good job, great play, nice stop, is what should be coming from both sidelines! (and don't forget to praise the other team when they make a play) Most commentary from well intentioned, but uninformed parents, is inaccurate and often conflicts with what should be done. If you feel compelled to yell instructions, we encourage you to move to the other side of the field and become a coach. We would be thrilled to put your services to good use in the coaching pool.

- The referee is in charge. They have the final say in all matters. During games, players and parents are expected to show courtesy to opponents and to referees. The decision of the referee is binding. Some of our referees will be young and learning their craft. In cases where the ref is simply wrong, the coaches will step in and resolve the issue. It is unacceptable in any form for a parent to confront a ref unless a player is in a dangerous situation.

- Coaches will provide 'team norms' for each team. Each coach will have different recommendation how they wish parents to handle specific situations (for example, players being picked up by someone other then a parent or what to do when weather is iffy and practice may have to be cancelled). Be sure to communicate with the coaches about any questions you might have and follow their instructions.

- Coaches will often ask for various volunteers to help with the duties of coordinating the team. A team mom or dad often helps to offload some of the task that a coach might need help with. In addition, each team will require a S.A.G.E. rep. Some coaches appoint even more helper positions to assist in the workload so don't be surprised if you're asked to become actively involved in a role such as this.

- Parents, older siblings of players, and just about any able bodied persons, are asked at games to perform the duty of sideline judge. The task at hand is to quite simply wave a flag when the ball goes out of bounds. This task is designed to assist a referee when they do not have the right angle to make the call. The typical etiquette for flag duty is that each team supplies one person to work each sideline. Too often a coach has to beg to get someone to do this. Most of the time this occurs while the coach should be prepping for final instructions. We need to do better here folks so please come prepared to help. Incidentally, the only tricky thing you have to know is that the ball is not out of bounds until the whole ball crosses the line and is outside the playing field.



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