Image Credit Dana Green - BRYC Braddock Road Youth Club
by Claudine Kurp
Spring is here and for many parents that means the start of the soccer season. My daughter has played soccer since the age of 5 and has always loved the sport. It has been fun to watch her grow as a player over the years. With every season, I get excited to watch her play and reconnect with old friends.
With my recent move to Texas I have found that her new soccer team provided an immediate group of friends for my daughter. A team atmosphere was just what she needed to feel more at home in her new state. I can’t say enough about organized sports for young children. It is such a great way for kids to get exercise, make friends and for parents to point out life lessons that come with the joy of winning and the agony of defeat (not quite agony for younger children).
Admittedly team participation can come with a fair amount of work on the part of both parent and child. Game days, tournaments, practices, camps and skills clinics all require time, money and preparedness.
On practice and game day I sometimes feel like I am packing for a weekend trip. Over the years I have refined my “Soccer Survival Kit” with the essentials for a successful season. Check out my “Soccer Survival Kit”:
3. Uniform / Change of Clothes - For travel soccer, where you have an official “Home” and “Away” uniform, coaches ALWAYS want you to have both uniforms for game day. You may need to change at the last minute for a multitude of reasons.
For younger recreational players, kids can come of the field wet, sweaty, and dirty. I always have a change of clothes for my daughter just in case she is drenched from rain, etc. I also typically bring a pair of Crocs. When the game is done, you will want to get your child out of his or her cleats and shin guards for comfort. Plus you will want to save your car from mud and grass stains.
4. Cleats – Cleats are pretty standard when kids are younger. As children get older, shoes can become more expensive. While I love to shop online for a bargain, I go to a sporting goods store for a proper cleat fitting at the start of each season. I typically go to Dick’s Sporting Goods. They usually offer a discounted price for a special “Soccer Starter Pack” that comes with a pair of shoes, a soccer ball and shin guards.
6. Chairs – I always seem to find myself at a soccer field for games or practices. Early on I learned that I needed a chair. Hey…if you are going to watch your child for 90 minutes you might as well be comfortable. I always liked a chair with a canopy for a hot day. You can find the one pictured below at this link.
7. Tents/Umbrella – The deeper you get into soccer, the greater the commitment can become. When you find yourself at a tournament you suddenly discover that you might need a tent to block you from the sun. Parents often trade off days when they will bring a tent for a group. I also have discovered in Texas that everyone brings a large golf umbrella to save them from the sun. Note, many turf fields do not allow tents. If you are traveling for soccer, check out the field that you are visiting to see what rules apply.
8. Time Management – For travel soccer, I was logging in almost 5 hours a week watching my daughter practice. For older children, parents can leave, but our practice time was during the height of rush hour and it was easier to stay rather then leave and come back. During that time, I would walk the track, check email, go through paper mail, catch up on phone calls, etc. Make your time count!
9. Crock-Pot – Unfortunately, practices are always held during dinnertime and homework time. It is just a fact of life. When you get home from practice it is imperative to get homework out and get a meal on the table. While fast food may work on occasion, at some point you will need to pull out the crock-pot and look forward to having dinner ready when you get home.
10. Patience & Maturity – No matter how much you promise yourself that you will never be THAT parent who lives through a child’s accomplishments, you can't help but immerse yourself in your child’s life. While there is always a lot to talk about after a game DON’T talk about a bad game, bad pass, bad call, bad play, etc. Either your child is blissfully unaware that they lost or they already feel bad enough. Park the conversation with all of your helpful hints, thoughts on the coach and words of wisdom until another time. In the end, they are there to form friendships and enjoy a sport. You don’t have to do a full ESPN post-game analysis. Your child will grow to hate the sport and loathe the ride home.
Make sports a fun experience and listen to your child. If they don’t want to play travel soccer, don’t make them. It costs roughly $3,000 a year to put your child in competitive travel soccer and requires a huge commitment. If your child says that they want to play tennis or play the flute, listen to them. This is their childhood and there is truly no good reason to spend your time and money on an extracurricular activity that your child doesn’t enjoy.
Finally, let your child have fun! I hope my list helps!
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