Soccer is loved worldwide and is one of the more common sports children begin playing at a young age. It’s a great way to introduce exercise into your child's life and make new friends and team-building skills.
There is no official soccer season, but it’s usually played in the fall and spring. It's best to plan ahead and sign up well before things get started.
There are some things you should think about before enrolling your child in a soccer program. Here’s what you should consider if you and your kid are interested in the sport.
1. Your Child's Participation
First and foremost, it's crucial to have a conversation with your child about soccer. Are they interested in playing? Do they like the sport, and is it fun for them? Asking these questions will help you decide whether to sign them up or not.
Some parents take it upon themselves to sign their children up for sports they've played or are interested in. Disregarding what your child is interested in may cause issues. When children are free to make their own choices, they're more likely to pursue the things they like and what they find fun. Ask your child what sport they'd like to play.
As a parent, your top priority should be allowing your child the freedom to choose. Although some sports may be more fun to watch than others, seeing your child having a good time participating in a sport they love is a feeling like no other.
2. Purchasing the Right Equipment
If your child is interested in playing soccer, it's vital to purchase the necessary equipment for their success. Young children typically require less equipment that is more affordable for you.
Little ones only need a good pair of sneakers, while older and more advanced players require plastic soccer cleats and a good pair of shin guards. Teams will usually provide socks, jerseys, and shorts for their players.
It may be necessary to visit a sporting goods store to have your child try on a uniform. Make sure to get these items early so your kid is ready for their first practice or game.
3. Soccer Safety
In addition to these items, consider purchasing some form of mouth protection. Although soccer is viewed as a light-contact sport, taking preventive measures will keep your child safe and free from significant injuries.
It's normal for children to stumble while playing soccer. If your child is prone to injury and takes extra time to recover, it might be wise to consider other sports. Falling is part of the game, especially with all the running and kicking going on.
As kids learn the ropes of soccer and improve their skills, they must understand how to play safely. Head injuries are common among soccer players and can have lasting physical effects. Coaches and players must know the risks involved so they understand what to do in case of injury.
4. Navigating Other Commitments
Before jumping to sign your kid up for multiple sports or activities, think about prioritizing the most fun. It's always good to participate in more than one activity, but not to the point where you're leaving a team low on players.
There are typically 11 players on a soccer field, and you don't want your child to miss a game if they're needed. Think about your other commitments and see if enrolling will fit into your busy schedule.
You can proactively schedule games on your calendar and stay on top of practices. As a parent, make sure you make ride or carpool arrangements so your child arrives on time. Coaches, other parents and your child's teammates will be appreciative.
5. Next Season and Beyond
Because soccer starts in the fall, you can take the winter to ask your child what they liked about the game. Reflecting on their time will help decide if signing up in the spring is on the table. Although the saying goes, "quitters never win, and winners never quit," forcing your child to play a sport they don't like can create tension in your relationship. Your child may hold resentment toward you and feel controlled.
Instead, try to teach the importance of giving their best effort, good sportsmanship and dropping out as a last resort. No parent wants to see their child quit something. Still, it could open up more opportunities for different activities in the future.
Soccer for All Ages
Signing your child up for soccer allows them to experience new ways to play, make friends and enjoy themselves. They may fall in love with the sport and continue as they grow older. Some kids will lean toward music, art or theater.
Your role as a parent is to instill fundamental values in your children. Encourage them to try their best, participate in fun activities and treat others how they'd like to be treated. Whether it's painting or scoring a goal, children deserve to explore their interests without judgment.