Jason Pratt’s Virtual Letter of Appreciation
Editor’s Note: Ten years ago, when my days as a soccer mom just started, I can remember hearing a soccer parent threatening her kid that he would have to walk home if he didn’t try harder … Thank goodness we haven’t heard that said on the soccer sideline in a while!
It amazes me that my article, PARENTS ON THE SOCCER SIDELINE – The Parent Impairment has been read by 100,000 readers. Editor Diane Scavuzzo tells me that it is the #1 article she has ever published.
It opens with:
It is hard to imagine too many people who would look into a mirror and admit that they are staring at “that parent”. Yet all I have to do is refer to “that parent” and you probably know who I am talking about and to what behaviors I am referring.
Now, I am so proud to write A Virtual Letter of Appreciation after reflecting on how we have all grown in the past few years.
Life is about the journey, not the destination. Let’s get back to that in a moment, but first I want to send an encouraging pat on the back to the youth soccer community.
A THANK YOU for being more supportive of the players, the game and to our soccer community.
I know, we don’t hear much praise these days – Is it possible that a whole group of people just got publically commended instead of bullied or judged?
You deserve it and I’m talking to you … coaches, parents, and club leaders!
When I look around the youth soccer training field and game pitch – I see more signs of a culture that supports our kids and puts the focus on fun and development.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re still on the journey.
In fact, we’ll always be on the journey – and that might be the most impressive part.
A few years ago, it felt like we were at the starting line – staring down at the journey with confusion and a deep misunderstanding of what to do and where to go.
It would be unrealistic (and probably unwelcome) for me to be in the car with families on the way home from their kids’ soccer games, so I can’t say for sure what is being discussed before or after games, but I’m at the games and the practices … and you soccer moms and dads are really starting to make me feel better when I’m there. While it’s not all about me of course – I hope that I can consider my experiences to be similar to yours.
There are fewer of “those parents” – the ones “screaming on the sidelines.” Those chastising and ego beating conversations between frustrated soccer parents and their frustrated kids. You probably know what I am talking about and to what behaviors I am referring to.
Studies tell us that registration numbers have been dropping in recent years, a fact that I don’t think catches anyone by surprise. We had become over-structured … expensive … cut-throat … and misguided.
The game became less of a game and less fun for the kids.
I’m as competitive as the next guy – but shouldn’t it be obvious and indisputable amongst us that fun is the critical ingredient to greatness?
When we’re young and looking for what we want to do with our professional life, we are told to find something we’re passionate about. Why would that be? The answer is simple: Because when we are having fun and we develop a passion for something, then we are driven from our core to work harder and continue to get better at what we do.
So we’re getting better and better at creating a culture that promotes fun and doesn’t stifle a passion for the sport.
I can hear you – you’re making me want to stay and enjoy myself and I’m not even playing!
Congratulations to Today’s Soccer Parents: You’re not so quick to judge the refs and vocally challenge calls.
In fact, you’re realizing that this is an opportunity for your child to learn an important lesson on dealing with adversity … working through the challenge of perhaps being dealt a tough hand … and bouncing back mentally to stay present.
Congratulations to Today’s Soccer Parents: You’re not so quick to judge the coaches or question their tactics and decisions.
In fact, you’re allowing your child to develop a trust and open mindset towards learning from the coach. I can see that everyone is slowly getting better – so cool to see!
Congratulations to Today’s Soccer Parents: You’re not so quick to judge your child or criticize their play or decisions.
In fact, I’ve never seen them smile this much – even during training! The kids are allowing themselves to go at 100% even though that might mean mistakes along the way.
That mindset is paying dividends for them and will continue to do so for the rest of their lives. You’re recognizing that kids and even adults hold themselves back from greatness for fear of making a mistake.
I was at these fields a few years ago and it was a very different experience.
We’re all on this journey together, all of us.
I don’t even have any kids on this particular touchline but I’m having blast seeing this experience play-out for everyone. The journey is designed to set us on a path towards a destination, but I don’t ever want to reach the destination because the journey is the most amazing feeling.
I can thank all of you for that – for having a growth mindset and recognizing that our default to be critical isn’t going to be rewarding for anyone involved.
See you this weekend on the soccer fields!