Before Leaving for Games (and Practices)
When game day rolls around, there are a lot of ways you can help your player have a successful and enjoyable day on the field.
Players should have an equipment bag or backpack they use to carry their gear to and from the field. That bag should hold their cleats, their shin guards, perhaps a properly inflated ball, and (between cleanings) their water bottle among other things (we’ll go over that elsewhere).
Maintaining the contents of that bag should be your player’s job, not yours. Part of your player’s pregame prep before leaving the house should be to make sure that the bag contains everything needed for the day. Learning this type of responsibility will allow players to become more independent and self-reliant. That will, in turn, contribute to them being more confident-on and off the field.
At the Game
Once players leave the car and meet up with the team, they should be more or less ready to navigate the game on their own. As a parent on game day, a lot of the responsibility now shifts to you. Remember: the environment you are entering, and in part, creating is one that can significantly impact your child and other people’s children.
Things to Do:
After the Game
Be supportive of all the players after the game, regardless of the result. Treat your player like a person, not an athlete regardless of the result and/or individual performance.
If you need to discuss game events or your player’s feelings relative to the game afterward, try to discuss the game in terms of what can be learned from it.
Reinforce the core values associated with youth sports:
All of this may seem obvious, but it's easy to forget when your child has had a tough day or when things are going really well on the field and the game gradually starts to take on a little too much importance.