The following article has been extracted from the FA(UK) coaching resources and provides an important insight for all soccer parents. Player development is all about problem solving and decision making because player development is about learning and learning is a long term, some would say life long process where decisions, mistakes and consequences are vital if things are to truly stick. A football match is a short-term event and simply part of this process – a test where a youngster can experiment and find out what he or she currently knows and can do.

By constantly trying to make the decisions and solve the problems for the players parents are in fact dis-empowering them in favour of short-term solutions with short-term reward - a win. Through dis-empowerment the players never learn to become self-reliant or trust themselves; because the parents obviously don't trust them. Therefore they find it more difficult to make the right decisions and solve their own problems both on and off the field

The FA(UK) outlined a child’s wish list when it comes to games / matches

  1. Give me the time and opportunity to make my own decisions both on and off the field – I need to learn the consequences of getting it right and wrong.
  2. Try not to tell me off or shout at me from the sideline when I do get things wrong. Give me the chance to relax and play – I need the mistakes to help me learn.
  3. Try not to keep offering me advice going to games or coming home again. Let me unwind and reflect – it helps me learn.
  4. Listen to me if I come to you with a problem – sometimes I just need someone to talk to – it helps me learn. Remember I am a young person not a small adult – sometimes I don't see things like you do or understand what you are saying.
  5. Come and enjoy the game – I always try my best
  6. Please love me for being me – not just for the things I can do.

All children need to learn that life is an on-going journey with no predetermined destination and that the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary. Many young players give up hope when they think they have failed. Failure is often linked to a final result or to unrealistic coach or parent expectation. Players, and parents should understand that performance moves in upward and downward cycles. During difficult periods, players need support from parents.

With respect, trust and responsibility to the fore, young players may begin to understand that the game owes them nothing but a wonderful chance to go out and express themselves in a challenging and creative way – then they may have a better chance of developing and evolving as players and people.

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