New schools. New teachers. New clubs. New teams.
Fall is an exciting time of new beginnings for our children and families, and a new sports season brings with it an exciting opportunity for new friendships to be formed, new goals to be set, and new routines to be established. While there are lots of busy-time-of-year distractions to kicking the season off successfully, follow these steps and you’ll be sure to be headed in the right direction! Our top 5 steps on how to make a sports season a success.
1. Get to Know Your Child’s Coach
Take an extra moment to connect with the coach briefly after a practice to introduce yourself, express some gratitude for their commitment to coaching the team, and to open the door for them to reach out if your child needs some extra support, or if you can help them in any way. I often hear from parents who don’t want to seem too involved in their child’s experience, or don’t want to appear as if they are seeking favoritism from the coach by having this important interaction. We need to move beyond these false narratives that too often put up barriers between coaches and parents and do everything possible to establish trust in this important relationship.
At Soccer Parenting we believe that collaborative relationships between coaches, clubs, parents, and players is in the best interest of player development – and there’s no better way to kick off this collaborative relationship than with a thoughtful hello and an authentic moment of gratitude.
2. Names, Names, Names
It’s time to learn some names! To develop a strong sense of community within the team, lead the way by learning the first names of all the parents and players. When I am coaching a new team, I literally make flashcards to quiz myself on the first names of the parents and which player they are connected to! If that’s what you need to do to learn the names of all the parents and players on the team, then time to rummage your child’s desk for some index cards! Put your new knowledge to the test by mentally working your way down the sideline during a game, starting a handful of conversations with parents you’ve never met before, and encouraging all the players on the field with supportive behaviors.
3. Help Your Child Set Some Goals
Goalsetting is an essential part of making a sport season a success, and helping your child develop this habit is essential – as learning how to set goals is one of the greatest benefits of playing sports! While it is extremely important your child is leading the process, acting as a sounding board, and supporting the process with some open ended questions is a way we are uniquely positioned to be a part of our children’s sports journey.
A couple of quick tips for the goal setting process:
4. Plan a Family Party with the Team
Somewhere along the way with busy schedules and new sports structures where teammates change more than years past, we have lost the Sense of Community of a team.
Developing a Sense of Community is essential when it comes to our child’s enjoyment of sport, parent and coach satisfaction with the experience, establishing trust in the coach-parent relationship, and forming life-long friendships.
If you are interested in learning more about the important research related to Sense of Community Theory in youth sport, GO HERE.
At Soccer Parenting we believe that a strong and supportive community of level-headed and like-minded parents and coaches will inspire players and a building block to this community being formed is being intentional about finding times to interact!
Now’s the time to plan a post-game potluck at a local park, or an after practice popsicle social complete with a fun game or craft. Maybe the players can make gametime headbands as the parents get to know one another. Regardless of what you do – DO IT. Again, with our busy schedules we must be incredibly intentional in getting these interactions onto the calendar. These moments of community building can sometimes be the catalyst for an especially enjoyable year on the sidelines and making the sports season a success. Have a good idea for a Team Party with players and parents? Please post them in the comments!
5. Come Up with a Plan for Equipment
Taking responsibility for their sports equipment is an excellent opportunity for our children to develop some autonomy and discipline. Develop a clear plan for where and when dirty gear will be left, who will wash it, where it will be returned after washing and stored so it’s easy to find, who will pack it into the bag for training or games, and who is going to clean up the grass or black artificial turf pellets that will invariably make their way into your car and home!
Maybe you need to dedicate a specific drawer in your child’s room to their athletic gear, or you need to move the broom into the garage or the closet by the front door, so your child has easy access to cleaning up their mess. Whatever your plan, make one! And – when things get busy and routines start to slide, hold your child accountable to the plan you developed! My children both did their own sports laundry starting in 6th grade and while there were moments of chaos when they forgot something, forgot to change the laundry from the washer to the dryer, or misplaced a sock, these learning moments were essential to their overall development.
It's a new sports season! Here's to a spectacular year of fun, learning and friendships for our young athletes (and us parents too)!