Albion SC’s Noah Gins on the Parents’ Role in Their Players’ Success
Soccer is a dynamic game, and it is important for soccer parents to know how to help their players achieve their best on and off the field.
It’s no secret that youth soccer has become both big business and an integral part of the American psyche. We even have the terms “soccer mom” and “soccer dad” to describe a particular type of parent. Too often we imagine this type of parent as pushy, overly-devoted to their child’s success, and at their wits’ end from constantly chauffeuring kids to practices and games. While some of this might be true – and every stereotype has a grain of truth in it – real soccer parents are a special breed usually devoted to supporting their child’s love of the game. Being a positive force in the anatomy of success requires more than enthusiastic encouragement but knowledge on nutrition and conditioning as well helping a player balance the needs of sports training with academic achievement. “We are in the business of developing the whole player – the child on the field,” says Albion Soccer Club Technical Director Noah Gins. “To work at its best, the anatomy of successful player development is a partnership with the player and the parents.”
The best soccer parents also know that their role is very important to their child’s success. Soccer parents need to understand the role a youth soccer club and its coaches have in the player’s success as well as help set realistic expectations.
Player development is a hot topic in the realm of youth soccer. How do parents fit into this dynamic world? To understand the anatomy of a soccer player’s success and the role of the parent SoccerNation’s Diane Scavuzzo spoke with well-known leader in the youth soccer world, Albion Soccer Club Technical Director Noah Gins.
Diane Scavuzzo: Preparing players to win on and off the field takes a joint effort on the part of the family, player and of course the club and coach. What do you see as the role of the parent?
Noah Gins: The parent’s role is an extremely important one. They are not only the major support to the player on a day to day basis, but in order for the player to succeed they have to be willing to buy into what the club and coach are doing for the player.
Once a parent can sit back and trust the process of the sport and the ups and downs that a player will experience, the player and the coach will be successful. I believe that parents have to be comfortable with the idea that they are going to “release their player to the game and to the experience.”
With all this being said, I do feel the parent has a role in communicating with the coach in a manner that allows the coach to help the player. Coaches have many players to manage, and the parent is only focused on their one player. The more a coach is in tune with the player, the better the coach can help that player.
The biggest thing a parent can do is not try and protect every feeling a player feels. Any sport is a roller coaster of emotions, and if a parent can share in the philosophy of the coach and help the player succeed – even if things are not going perfectly for the player – it will then allow the player to navigate through tough situation and overcome the adversity.
Diane Scavuzzo: Elite soccer parents devote an enormous amount of time and money in the pursuit of their players’ dreams. What does it really take to help a talented player to succeed in the competitive world of soccer?
Noah Gins: I would say that beyond being talented, a player has to be more committed than anyone. The player has to want it more than mom, dad, coach, and the next player. If a player has the desire and truly wants to succeed – and puts that out there in a way that every coach, every parent, every referee, and the opposing team can see – then this player will succeed. Parents need to understand and support this.
Diane Scavuzzo: Parents want to help their kids reach their goals. How can they accomplish this?
Noah Gins: I think a parent needs to find a program with a proven track record for getting kids where they want to go. I think they also need to find the resources that allow their child to reach their goals. A player that does not have the proper opportunities to get them into a position to reach their goals will usually not make it.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you have some tips for how parents can work with the coach and club to best support their child?
Noah Gins: Parents need to find a club and a coach that will work hand in hand to develop their player. They must trust and respect the leadership of the club and work with the coach. The club and coach do not want to be told how to coach or how to do their job, but the coach and the club do want insight on each player that will help them do a better job.
Diane Scavuzzo: How can parents prepare players for success on a broader scale?
Noah Gins: I think in general if a player is taught respect, humility, teamwork, and how to face adversity and not run from it, then we are preparing players for success in life. I think a coach that teaches this inside the game on a daily basis is preparing these players for success on and off the field well beyond their days as youth soccer players.
Diane Scavuzzo: On the topic of overall success in life, how important is balancing education with soccer training, even for very talented players?
Noah Gins: It’s very simple: we live in America where you go from youth soccer to college. Unless you are moving out of the U.S., a player needs good grades to move to the next level. In addition, every player needs a “Plan B,” and Plan B requires you have an education.
Diane Scavuzzo: What tips do you have for inspiring the best from your player at home and on the pitch?
Noah Gins: I would say do everything you can to foster the love of the game and highlight what the player does well, not focus on the things he or she cannot do or doesn’t do well.
A parent can also focus on the things a player can do to be successful, like work ethic, practice time away from the team, nutrition, habits, and so on.
A parent should not worry about a win or a loss; they must always keep the game in perspective for the player.
Diane Scavuzzo: We know that parents will not always agree with everything a coach does, but how should they handle their relationship with their child’s coach?
Noah Gins: Parents need to stay positive and encourage communications with their child’s coach. There are enough pressures in the game as it is, so parents do not need to add to them.
Parents need to always support the coach in front of the players. They don’t always have to agree with them or like what they do, but they should always respect the coach in front of the kids. This is important because the player will be confused and not know who to trust if parents are not supportive of the coach. Be a role model for your player and show respect for your coach at all times.
Diane Scavuzzo: If you could address every soccer parent at every level, what would you tell them?
Noah Gins: This is a marathon and not a 50-yard dash. Players develop at different periods of their life, and the game is the same wherever you go. Find your spot, stay committed and support your child through the ups and downs of youth soccer.