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How to Stop Being Hypercritical Of Your Soccer Player ⚽⚽

When my son Dante was younger, I was a terrible Soccer Dad. As soon as the game was over, I attempted to replay the game with him, pointing out what he could have done better. At that age, half the time, he was thinking about going to a birthday party while I was yapping away about the soccer game.

Next time you’re at a big tournament, sit back and observe parents walking back to the car after a game. You’ll see legions of Moms and Dads replaying the game, especially after a loss. Then look at the faces of the kids. You’ll see some totally dejected kids, many on the verge of tears.

Look, we’ve mostly all done it. I was particularly bad about it. It really did come from a place of love, but it was not helping my son’s development, so I made a couple of changes in MY behavior.

  1. Tempered my expectations. My son is a perfectionist. Unfortunately, he gets that tendency from me. I had to learn to reign in my perfectionism to keep from projecting it onto him.
  • Focused on the process rather than results. There’s not a lot that’s less important than a U9 soccer game score.
  • Talked to his coaches, asked them what they were trying to teach him, and only encouraged him to do what his coaches wanted him to reinforce their message.
  • As he got older, watching a film of his game and asked him questions, basically learning the game through his eyes. That taught me more about soccer than anything else.
  • The biggest thing I learned was to simply keep my big mouth shut. If he had a bad game, he knew it. He is his own biggest critic. Anything I could say would just be piling on.

I won’t say I never relapse and critique his mistakes, but I’m 95% better at it than I used to be. I look back at his U13 team (1st-year full field), and of the 18 boys on that roster, only four (4)are still playing. I feel that many of those parents didn’t learn these lessons. Glad I did.

Something to think about. ⚽❤

Buford Mobley

Chief executive officer at The Soccer Parent Lifestyle · Clemson University. Helps soccer parents guide their kids through the maze of competitive youth soccer. Author, 'Soccer Parent Lifestyle' book and Magazine.