In a recent youth soccer game that I was coaching, a player on the opposing team made a defensive error. My team took advantage of the miscue, and we scored a goal. The other coach immediately yelled at his player, blaming him for the goal. It was loud enough for all the players and parents around the field to hear. The child also heard the comments and slowly walked up the field with his head down.
It Happens Often
Believe it or not, incidents like this one do happen in youth soccer. I have seen it happen over and over again in local soccer games. Nothing good can come from blaming and embarrassing a child on the soccer field. Coaches should never blame children for anything they do on the field.
Kids Do Try
Kids do try on the soccer field. They want to win. After all, that is the point of the game of soccer. So it makes no sense to blame a child on the soccer field. The last thing they want to do is make a mistake and give up a goal. And they feel bad enough when errors happen.
Filling the Emotional Tank
Coaches in the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) are taught to fill players' emotional tanks. In other words, the best way to motivate young players is to praise and encourage them. Blaming kids on the soccer field just drains their emotional tanks in one shot.
The Magic Ratio
PCA also recommends a magic ratio when providing feedback to young players. They suggest giving five compliments to every one criticism. By providing praise along with criticism, players are more likely to listen. On the other hand, a coach who only gives criticism will quickly be tuned out by the players.
Send the Right Message
Blaming a child in front of everyone sends the wrong message. This is a poor life lesson to teach a young player. Instead, coaches should teach players that soccer is a team sport. It is never any one player's fault. Players win as a team and lose as a team. Young players will make many mistakes on the soccer field. But mistakes are also chances to learn. Coaches should take advantage of these opportunities and teach their players not berate them.
There is no reason to blame a young player on the soccer field. It serves no purpose, and nobody benefits.
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Edwin Torres has been coaching competitive youth soccer since 2001. As a PCA Champion with the Positive Coaching Alliance, he promotes positive coaching in youth sports. For more information, follow him on Twitter @FlipPoker.