There’s no denying that playing club soccer is a significant commitment. Our kids sacrifice quite a bit to live up to the pledge they make to their club team. For some, the rewards totally outweigh the sacrifice. But for other, there comes a time when they are ready to hang up their cleats and succumb to the appeal of the social pressures that come with middle and high school.
Can we really blame our kids for wanting time on the weekends to go to the movies with their friends? No. But is there a way we can battle the burnout?
Like anything else, the first step is acknowledging the problem. And, then we have to explore ways to fix it.
Schedule Free Time
As soccer moms, we tend to jam pack our kids’ schedule. We’ve all experienced this kind of thinking, “There’s no practice Tuesday, let me see if we can get in with the trainer.”
We need to remember that kids need time to be kids. They need time to hang out with friends. And, allowing them that time will keep them involved in what they love.
Think about it. Free time for them means free time for you. When’s the last time you had time to sit on the couch and sip on a cup of coffee or tea and just relax? It actually sounds appealing, doesn’t it? Imagine how appealing it is to kids looking to develop relationships with kids at school.
A day on the couch FaceTiming friends or playing video games is not the worst thing that your busy, physically fit kid can do. It brings them balance with their school friends.
Play Multiple Sports
Studies show that kids who play multiple sports are more physically fit. And, they are less prone to injuries that are caused by overuse. We may think that more practice means our kids will get better. But the truth is, rest is just as important.
In fact, medical professionals report that excessive training in one sport when kids’ bodies are still growing does not give them enough time to heal correctly. It actually does more harm than good.
When kids cross train, they work for multiple muscle groups. The ultimate goal for any athlete is to develop quickness, agility, balance, and core strength. And, when you play multiple sports, these basic athletic skills become much more fine-tuned.
So, if the ultimate goal is to develop an elite soccer player, then playing multiple sports at a young age crucial to this development.
Not too many people favor the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality. And, that’s perfectly fine. Kids should work hard if they want to experience rewards. But, the game still needs to be fun. If kids are not having fun, then they will be less motivated to get better.
When going to soccer practice feels more like a chore or a job than an extracurricular activity, there is a problem. It’s our job as parents to balance work and play for our kids, and when play starts to feel like work, kids shy away.
Think about it. Do you like coming home from work and doing chores and housework? If you are like most, you’d rather do something that you enjoy. Make sure that soccer is something that is enjoyable.
That’s not saying that you shouldn’t encourage your kids to practice and get better on their own. Drive and desire to improve are just as crucial to development as fun is. But, if you are pushing your kids so much that they are not having fun, then they will likely burn out and quit.
Let Your Child Fail
All kids are unique—that’s what makes them great. And, nobody understands their kids better than their parents. You know if your child is a high-stress perfectionist in every facet of life vs. a happy go lucky kid who can let mistakes roll of his/her back.
Regardless of their personality type, you have to step back and let them fail sometimes. Given, this will be much easier with a happy go lucky kid than a perfectionist. But, it’s more important to allow your perfectionist experience that failure.
Why? If your child has perfectionist tendencies, the pressure of cuts, making a mistake, or disappointing teammates can become his/her own worst enemy.
He had this to say about young athletes with perfectionist personalities, “Perfectionism can be a potent [energizing] force but can also carry significant costs for athletes when things don’t go well. Reports of psychological difficulties and interpersonal problems, for example, are not uncommon among athletes who describe themselves as perfectionists.”
His point is that if you are not careful when you are pushing a perfectionist, the pressure can lead them to quit. Instead, you should be fostering a love of the game and team environment. Those are the skills that will carry over into life after soccer ends.
No one wants to see their kids up and quit a game they’ve spent their entire life playing. Club soccer is like a second family. But, there needs to be a line.
Make sure your kids get to experience being a kid. Don’t make them miss the school dance for soccer practice. And, don’t overlook the importance of sleepovers with friends or Friday night trips to the movie. It just might lead to a much stronger commitment in the long run.