Over the past 5 months, we have utilized the Club Newsletters to highlight how players, parents, and coaches can make our games and practices a better environment to love, learn, and share soccer by Honoring the Game – Respecting the ROOTS. As a quick review of what has been covered since the start of the fall season:
- Rules: We refuse to bend and/or break the rules to win.
- Opponents: We value and recognize that a worthy opponent brings out our best, and we take a “fierce yet friendly” attitude into competition.
- Officials: We respect officials, even when we disagree with them.
- Teammates: We support our teammates and never do anything to embarrass our team (on or off the field).
A great deal of the conversation has centered on two key words: HONOR and RESPECT. As we close out our look at the ROOTS, I thought it might be helpful to put some context into these two critical words.
- to hold in great esteem
- adherence to what is right or to a conventional standard of conduct.
- fulfill (an obligation) or keep (an agreement)
- Distinction, privilege, tribute
- Honesty, uprightness, ethics, morals
- a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
- due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.
- Esteem, regard, admiration
- Consideration, thoughtfulness, attentiveness, politeness, courtesy, civility
The final piece of the ROOTS is SELF.
- Self: We live up to our standards of Honoring the Game – even when others don’t.
In other words, Players, Parents, and Coaches should be Role Models for those around them in order to encourage and demonstrate the attitude and behavior that will result in Respect and Honor!
All of us have experienced that moment in the game where we can get caught up in the action, the drama, and the behaviors that bring us to the edge. Having a plan and a mechanism to navigate those moments is vital to successfully get us through them and back to being positively engaged in the game. Here is one example of one way for players, parents, and coaches to refocus:
- Take a deep breath.
- Remind yourself of the discipline required NOT to react.
- Engage in positive self-talk (i.e. “I need to be a role model. I can rise above this!”).
- Turn away from the action. (more for parents and coaches than players)
- Count to 20 (or 50, if needed…whatever works).
- Quickly refocus on the next play.
The other aspect of Respect and SELF is how each player is preparing for participation in soccer. Are you HONORING the game in how your treat yourself? There are several critical areas that each player (and family) should be exploring and supporting:
- Nutrition-not just pregame or practice, but as a lifestyle. A well-balanced diet can fuel your success.
- Rest-sleep is vital to both recovery and performance
- Attitude-are you bringing your best SELF to each day.
- Effort-similar to attitude, how hard you work can help you achieve your best
- Mental Health-often a forgotten part of a player’s development. Self-talk, self-esteem, confidence and other emotional and social influences play a major role in each player’s success.
*My hope is to explore this component more in January and February in future Newsletters and as well as our other club outlets.
While this concludes our season-long initiative, Honoring the Game and Respecting the ROOTS is not a static, one-time exploration. It is an action that needs to be practiced over and over. Here are a couple of suggestions for ongoing support for parents and coaches.
For Parents and Coaches-Seize Teachable Moments
Capitalize on the many instances during your practices and games when lessons about Honoring the Game can be highlighted. These can be either positive or negative moments, such as someone losing graciously (positive) or an athlete taunting an opponent (negative). Engage your child/player in a discussion about whether the behavior in question HONORS the game and shows RESPECT.
Coaches-Practice During Practice
Just as we develop drills for improving physical skills, we must create situations in practice where players learn how to honor the game. For example, during a practice match, make a bad call on purpose and see how your players react. If they react in a way that’s consistent with Honoring the Game, praise them. If they don’t, use that moment to discuss how you want them to respond in a game situation (i.e., not letting the questionable call throw them out of their rhythm). You might also consider having your players officiate during practice games to appreciate the difficulty of being an official.