Dear Parents, If your elite soccer player has a dream of playing in a high level, you can help the most by fostering these mental qualities in your children and reinforcing them every day. The greatest gift parents can give their children in sports is the gift of mentality.
Lesson #1: Be Coachable
First and foremost, teach your child to be coachable. Being coachable means that your child has respect for his or her coach and listens to what is being taught. Being coachable means that your child trusts the process, listens to what he or she is told and executes it without complaint. Your child may not master the skill but he or she has mastered the work ethic necessary to master that skill. As parents, we struggle to trust the process as much as our children struggle to trust it. But keep in mind that trust in the process is most important when your faith in the process is most difficult.
Lesson #2: Be comfortable with being uncomfortable
Second, teach your child to reach out of his or her comfort zone by having difficult conversations with the coach.
Children should be the ones to have conversations with their coaches about playing time or skill progression. Children need to learn how to talk with the adult in a respectful way, yet advocate for themselves. When your elite soccer player reaches higher levels at an older age, coaches will not (nor should they) have a conversation with parents about playing time. Your children need preparation and practice in how to advocate for themselves in their professional careers. Elite soccer provides you the opportunity as a parent to teach your child a life lesson on communicating with authority and advocacy.
Lesson #3: Be an excellent teammate and leader
Third, teach your child the characteristics of how to be an excellent teammate and leader. These go hand in hand. Teach your child SELFLESSNESS by emphasizing good body language if a teammate makes a mistake. Teach your child ACCOUNTABILITY by not placing blame toward others. Teach your child a STRONG WILL and stronger COMMUNICATION SKILLS by not avoiding difficult conversations.
There is no “I” in team!
Lesson #4: Be mentally tough
Fourth, teach your children mental toughness and resilience. One day in their lives they may not start, or maybe they don’t even play at all. Elite athletes survive disappointments because they are mentally prepared for whatever happens to them. They have dealt with adversity, disappointment, and failure and learned how to grow from those experiences.
Lesson #5: Postive Attitude
Last but not least, remind your children they can achieve anything IF they put in the work CONSISTENTLY. When the going gets tough, the tough keep going! Trust your process.