“Floss your teeth!”
Oh. My. Fucking. Goodness.
Parents, shut up.
Look, I don’t want to get belligerent in my writing, but sometimes, a feisty call-to-action is needed. And this is only because I care about the development of youth athletes. I mean come on: I’ve seen kids quit the game because of insane parents.
Of course, I can understand the urge to instruct play-by-play to your child because you invest time and money into soccer, but want to know a mind fuck?
As much as you think you’re helping your kid with your game commentary, you’re not.
In fact, you’re making it WORSE.
I get I’m not a parent.
But before you utter the words, “you just don’t understand, Erica! You don’t have a child!!!!”…hear me out.
On a total side note: I’m lucky to have soccer parents who are stellar and who do well with the kids I train. Allow me to be a braggart: my clients are amazing. Clap it up for them.
However, since I’m involved in youth soccer and find myself at various tournaments and games, I’ve witnessed crazy some shit from other parents I don’t know. And it’s sad.
So why should parents shut up? Let’s dive in:
1. Cognitive overload.
Soccer is a game full of a thousand decisions, and sometimes, these all happen within a split fucking second.
Do you think directing your kid will help? Are they paying attention to you?
Chances are, they’re not. They’re too busy trying to navigate their next move, or make a pass, or run off the ball, or make it out of a slide tackle alive.
Their brains are overloaded enough with the amount of actions they need to make in the game, let alone, being able to execute them with quality and without getting injured.
Alas, I won’t go into a discussion on the central nervous system and why over-activating it can cause athletes to make poor decisions or suffer freak injuries.
Just know this: shut up.
2. You’re making them nervous.
Expounding off of my last point, even if your kid is not totally taking in what you’re saying, they’re still hearing a bunch of chitter chatter from the sideline.
You’re making them frantic.
You’re making them nervous.
You’re distracting them from enjoying themselves.
You’re also confusing them because they’re trying to hear what their coach is saying, while you shout a total opposite set of instructions.
3. They don’t learn autonomy.
Let me now transition from aggression to affection: thank you mom for being the best soccer parent out there. I didn’t play for the D3 U.S. National Team or anything…
Anyway, so what did she do when I was a munchkin athlete?
She shut up.
Of course, she still cared and was tremendously invested in my athletic development, but only in terms of driving me to practice and tournaments, as well making sure I reached out to college coaches and knew how to draft a professional email, and taking me to the Chik-Fil-A drive through after games. That’s about it.
Come game time, she sat back and appreciated her daughter frolicking around on the pitch. Didn’t commentate. Didn’t instruct. Didn’t scold. Didn’t say a word. And my dad?
He sat in the stands away from the other parents and remained silent. Of course, when I scored, he cheered louder than a 13-year-old girl at a Taylor Swift concert.
Again, I turned out okay. Didn’t play semi-pro or anything either…
And I’d argue because of their “laissez-faire” soccer parenting, I learned autonomy in sports and real life:
I learned to practice on my own.
I learned to reach out to new club coaches.
I learned to juggle in my front yard for an hour a day.
I learned to start a business.
I learned to pay my bills.
I learned to take initiative with my blog.
Do you think my mom is on my ass telling me to blog every day for three years, write over 400 articles, hire a web developer, invest in website plugins and systems, stay in shape, and write a 15,000-word eBook on top of all that?
I’m doing it all alone, baby. Only because I was taught autonomy by my parents.
So I repeat: parents, shut up.
You’ll be thankful later on in life when your child plays in college.
But more importantly, you’ll be thankful when they’re totally independent and not living in your basement.