soccer lightIn any youth game or match there are typically four roles: player, coach, referee, and parent. You only get to choose one. We’re headed off to the first of 3 soccer games today. A joy, really, to watch these little boys enjoy their team, struggle to do their best, wrangle their wits and learn to play on a team. My boys aren’t the star players (that’s for sure) but they love it when something goes well. They work hard for goals that rarely come. They really do enjoy knowing when they’ve passed a ball successfully. There is no question they love feeling they belong on these teams and they really do enjoy playing the game. That’s why we have kept it up.

I used to debrief after the games with my boys — discussing what went well and what didn’t — at first they seemed to love that. And then I heard the advice from other parents ahead of me and from those who have dealt with the not-so-great coaches:

Know your role. You only get one.

In any game or sport there are the players or competitors (your child), there is a coach, and there is the referee keeping it fair. You’re none of those and even if the person in one of those roles isn’t performing at their best it’s earnestly not your job to correct it. You just don’t want to be the backseat driver here (and your child certainly doesn’t want to hear it) and you really don’t want to have the ugly habits we’ve all seen.

In any game or match you’re observing you’re only one thing: the parent.

I’ve spent the last few years telling my boys how much I enjoyed watching them play the game at the end of each game as opposed to discussing how much I liked watching them succeed or how I felt for them while they failed.

I’m thankful for the advice I was given — it’s made the soccer Saturday madness a bit less high-stakes and it’s focused and honed the joy.

I hope the advice I heard helps you, too. I welcome any more advice or pearls you have.

Also, this sign is legendary and spot on: