• Welcome to the Parents Sideline

Be a Great Team Parent

Tips for Parent Conduct, Team Trips, and Communication
Reprinted from Soccer America Youth Soccer Insider:
March 6, 2017
By Amy Whitley

Youth sports programs often can only run with the help of parent volunteers. Whether your role on the team is crucial (team manager) or mostly on the sidelines, it’s vital to keep sportsmanship and a helpful attitude front and center. Here’s how you can help!

Taking Charge of Team Communication

Take the burden off your (likely unpaid) team coach and volunteer to oversee team communication. It’s easier than ever to communicate with other team parents online and via phone, but start the season with a face-to-face team meeting. This is a great time to review expectations from other parent volunteers. Come prepared with information and schedules for:

• Team snack responsibilities and requirements: who brings what snacks and when?
• Transportation expectations: does everyone drive his or her own child, or will you carpool?
• End-of-season events such as a party or final meeting.

Most importantly, decide on a single method of communication for your team. Pick one communication app or website and stick to it. Gather every parent’s e-mail address and phone number if not already provided and give parents a heads-up how often you plan to communicate with them. Be mindful of privacy: choose a communication method every parent is comfortable with. For in-stance, some may not want to give their e-mail address, or others may not want to communicate via an online service. Apps and sites for team communications include TeamSnap, Closed Facebook Group, Teamer, Text Message List.

Planning for Games Away from Home

If your child is on a serious or competitive team, chances are, you’ll be traveling away from home for some games or tournaments. Plan as far in advance as possible, and use your communication method of choice to create carpools and to detail costs. Decide whether parents will be responsible for travel costs such as gas, food, and lodging individually or whether everyone will contribute to a travel fund.

If a hotel stay is part of your travel experience, try to stay at the same hotel chain each time to collect points in a hotel loyalty program. Many hotel brands also offer a discounted room rate if reservations are booked in larger blocks. Call hotels in advance to ask whether they offer this benefit. If so, block the rooms, and then request each family book individually. There’s no need to pay for all the rooms upfront.

Look for hotels that offer rooms with kitchenettes, which allow parents to store team snacks, keep water cold, and even make simple meals in the room. Always opt for a hotel with a complimentary breakfast and check what time it is served, in the case of early morning games. A laundry facility on hand is always helpful, and for after the game, a hotel pool is a fun attraction for the kids.

Dinner out can be a fun way to build community and bond as a team. However, group sizes can make restaurant visits hard. Call potential restaurants early in the day with an estimated head count and be sure to emphasize that it will be OK to split the group into several tables. This will ensure a shorter wait or avail-ability of seating. Ask for individual checks up front, and if kids are seated away from parents, instruct each parent to order for his or her child so wait staff won’t need to gather confusing orders from kids and checks are easier to split.

Ensuring Good Parent Conduct

All parents should work hard to instill good sportsmanship in their children, and of course a good attitude and positive conduct are crucial from mom and dad, too. Always make sure you’re cheering for your team, never cheering against the opponent, and that you leave any constructive criticism for your coach to dole out. Don’t instruct your child in any way during the game and only approach the player bench if instructed to do so.

Respect the referees as well and never engage in negative discussions or arguments with opposing parents. Instead, look for the common ground, which isn’t too hard to find: you’re all there for the same reason, to cheer on the kids and enjoy the sport. Remember that the kids are just kids and still learning. Save any conflicts or criticism for your coach until you can speak in private -- away from other players, your child, or other parents.

If a conflict does arise with another player or parent, do not engage. Walk away from an escalating situation or ask an official to intervene. If you see another adult who needs to curb his or her behavior, intervene as a group or with an official or coach.

At the end of the season, wrap up the year with a celebratory event or meeting to keep the goodwill flowing and to stay in touch with parents for future opportunities or teams. Recognize team success or achievements during your last event and consider rewarding young players with tools for their future success, such as balls or other gear, rather than with participation trophies.

Ask fellow parents whether you can save their contact information, or keep the communication app or service open so parents can continue to contact each other for support, additional events, or continued friendship.

(This article is re-published courtesy of FIX.com. Illustrations are also courtesy of FIX.com.)
(Amy Whitley is a travel writer, editor, and avid outdoorswoman living in Southern Oregon. Amy writes the NWKids column for OutdoorsNW Magazine, edits at Trekaroo.com, and founded the family travel site PitStopsForKids.com. She loves hiking, camping, and skiing with her three sons.)
Read More

Game Day Checklist

Directions to the field.
Arrive at the time designated by coach (yes, we all have other obligations, but it's not fair to the other players to have your player arrive late).
Bring a chair to relax in while calmly watching the game.
Cheer for your child's team
Read More

Code of Conduct

The Parent . . .
1. Does not coach the players (including their own child) from the sidelines during the game.
2. Respects the judgment of the referee and does not criticize officials.
3. Focuses on mastering soccer skills knowledge and, to some extent, game strategies.
4. Decreases the pressure on their child to win.
5. Believes that soccer's primary value is to allow youth the opportunity for self- development.
6. Understands the risks. A soccer game is full of mistakes. Playing soccer is a willingness to chance a failure.
7. Communicate with the coach and create a positive working relationship.
8. Controls negative emotions and thinks positively.
Read More

Think food first: Refueling

Think food first: Refueling after training or games

Reprinted from Soccer America Youth Soccer Insider:
August 11, 2017

By Dev K. Mishra, M.D.

Here's another of those subjects that seems to make some people emotional -- why is it important for young athletes to refuel after exercise, when should this happen, and what drink/food is best?

The sports supplement industry has a massive foothold in this area, and for sure there are some great products available from highly reputable manufacturers. But I find that the two most important points are: sooner is better, and think food first.

When: Sooner is better, especially if you’ll be playing again soon

Muscles require fuel to function properly, and after a training session or a game your muscles will need the right fuel to recover. It’s generally believed that in the first hour or two after exercise the muscles are most receptive to refueling. If you don’t properly refuel and recover it means that your performance in the next session will likely be less than what you want. Without proper refueling you can have all sorts of issues such as easy fatigue, poor strength, muscle cramps, or heat exhaustion. And you probably won’t play very well.

Let’s now say that you’re doing multiple sessions in one day, maybe 4 to 6 hours apart. I’m not a fan of this type of training or competition but I have a feeling it’ll be around for a while. If this is the case, then you’ll want to start refueling as soon as possible after the conclusion of your first session. I don’t think you have to obsess about starting to refuel the second your first session ends, but if possible it would be best to start in the first 20 minutes or so. This will allow you to finish the food or drink in enough time to have it digested in your stomach, and for the muscle recovery effects.

Examples would include: • Football two-a-days • Tournament play with more than one game in a day, such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, softball, baseball • Triathlete training with one session in the morning and another in the evening If you have more time between sessions then you have more flexibility in your recovery options. Muscle recovery definitely continues for several hours after exercise, it just seems to be most efficient in the first hour or two.

What: Think Food First

I mentioned in my article “Do's And Don'ts of Supplements for Young Athletes” that pretty much every nutritionist and sports scientist would recommend actual food rather than supplements for your performance nutritional needs and I would say that’s true for after-exercise recovery too. Muscles actually need carbs for recovery, so be cautious about high protein and low-carb products when it comes to post exercise recovery. Many sports nutritionists like a 3 to 1 ratio of carb grams to protein grams in your recovery food or drink.

A couple of years back I purchased Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, and in my opinion it remains one of the most sensible and science-based sports nutrition guides around. Here are some suggestions from her book about appropriate post-exercise foods:

  • Fruit smoothie (Greek yogurt + banana + berries) • Cereal + milk • Bagel + (decaf) latte • Pretzels + hummus • Baked potato + cottage cheese • Turkey sub • Pasta + meatballs

Clark also advises: “do not consume just protein, as in a protein shake or protein bar. Protein fills your stomach and helps build and repair muscles, but it does not refuel your muscles.”

My Favorite Post-Exercise 'Food': Chocolate Milk

Sure, you can buy fairly expensive engineered recovery drinks, bars, and powders but I’ve always been a big fan of good ol’ chocolate milk. Consider that a typical 8-ounce serving of chocolate milk contains about 26 grams of carbs and 8 grams of protein (the 3 to 1 ratio), and actually tastes good. Who doesn’t like chocolate and milk? Drink up and play better!

Key Points: • Muscle recovery after exercise requires a combination of carbs and protein. • Muscle is believed to recover better if refueling starts in the first hour or two after exercise. • Start as soon as possible (ideally in the first 20 to 30 minutes) if you’ll be doing more than one training session or game in the same day. Sooner is better. • Think food first for recovery. Chocolate milk is an excellent choice for drink, as is a fruit smoothie, and several foods. If you prefer a sports drink or bar be sure to purchase from a highly reputable manufacturer.

(Dr. Dev K. Mishra, a Clinical Assistant Professor of orthopedic surgery at Stanford University, is the creator of the SidelineSportsDoc.com online injury-management course, now a requirement for US Club Soccer coaches and staff members. Mishra writes about injury management at SidelineSportsDoc.com Blog.This article has previously appeared in the Youth Soccer Insider.)

Read More

A Parent's Guide to ...

Commentary

A Parent's Guide to Game Day and Practice -- from Kaz Tambi

"If there is one single variable I can isolate as a predictor of success (beyond obviously a base level of talent and ability in the child), it is how negative and critical the parents are. The more intrusively involved, the more pressure, and the more critical the parents are, the higher the likelihood the kid will stop enjoying the game, start to fail to perform, burn out, and then quit – exactly what the parents don’t want!"
-- Kazbek Tambi

New Jersey-born Kaz Tambi captained Columbia, won four Ivy League championships, and reached the NCAA Division final four. He made the 1984 U.S. Olympic team and that year debuted, at age 22, for a star-studded New York Cosmos team that included World Cup runner-up Johan Neeskens.

On the eve of his Cosmos debut -- Coach Eddie Firmani had given him advance notice -- Tambi convinced his parents to come to Giants Stadium.

Before that day, Tambi’s parents played no part in his soccer life.

Kaz’s parents were World War II refugees from Russia who both worked second-shift factory jobs as machine operators in New Jersey and worked overtime on weekends when Kaz’s games took place. While not at the factory, they toiled to repair the dilapidated house they bought in Ridgewood after leaving Paterson.

“Setting aside time for my soccer was a luxury they couldn’t afford,” says Tambi, who spent all his free time during his youth playing pickup soccer at a park within bicycle distance, playing on his own; or finding creative ways to get to other settings to watch or play soccer."Kaz Tambi won four Ivy League titles with Columbia University.

“As important as soccer was to me, they never watched me play or asked about soccer; we never talked about it at all," says Tambi. "Later in life, especially when I became a parent myself, I realized that was not by choice but was out of necessity. The priority for them was to provide for us: put food on the table and clothes on our backs in a livable house in a decent neighborhood. For them, as young immigrants after the war, it was a heroic burden to shoulder, and they have all my respect for succeeding.”

But they did make it to his Cosmos debut.

“I played that game fairly well, I thought, for my first time starting as a pro,” he said. “After the game, I sat down on the couch in the family room relaxing with my parents, feeling happy about the game.

“As we sat on that couch I noticed my mom didn’t look happy. We chatted amiably, but I could tell something was on her mind, and she looked a little stressed. Then I understood why she looked grim. She said that she thought I should be dribbling the ball more, passing less, and pushing up the field faster. I listened quietly and nodded, because I respect and love my mom. But it started dawning on me how lucky I had been all these years.

“I remember saying to myself, as she was telling me where and when to pass the ball -- a ball I’d been kicking very successfully for over a decade completely on my own -- ‘Thank God Mom was not a part of my soccer world growing up, because there is no way I would have gotten here if she were.’”

• • •


Tambi, who practiced law after his playing career in the NASL, ASL and MISL, is the Director of Coaching for the New York City FC Girls Academy. He has been coaching for more than two decades, at the college and youth level, and has served as U.S. U-15 and U-17 girls national team coach, leading the U-17s to a runner-up finish at the 2008 World Cup.

He coached Morgan Brian, Crystal Dunn, Lindsey Horan, Sam Mewis, Abby Dahlkemper, Casey Short and Taylor Smith.

Alums from the New York/New Jersey club World Club FC, where he has served as a coach and director, include Alecko Eskandarian, Jason Hernandez, Dilly Duka, Danny Szetela, Yael Averbuch and Amber Brooks.

• • •

Tambi jokes that his mom may have been right about pushing up the field faster.

But he also says:

“Had my parents been overly involved like many parents are today, had they been intruding on my joy for the game with their daily critique of my play (even if they were right), there is no way I would have enjoyed the game as much as I did growing up. ... I learned the game and improved in the best possible way. Through trial and error. Through having the freedom to be creative and make mistakes, and not have to worry about my parents’ approval.”

Tambi, a father of three, appreciates how important the parents’ support is in today’s youth soccer environment. But he also believes that a key ingredient to producing world-class players -- or at least getting the most out of each player’s potential -- is to reduce the adult influence.

“We want the parent’s role only to be supportive and encouraging,” Tambi says about the message sent at NYCFC. “As just one simple example among many, we discourage parents from watching their kids practice up-close on the sidelines, or even in the bleachers.”

Kaz Tambi's Practice Advice for Parents:

 If you are watching practice too closely, you will start to see mistakes and problems, and then almost inevitably you will start to talk about them. This often happens on the ride home from practice, when parents too often say negative things like, “you don’t look like you were focused and you need to be more aggressive” or “you’re not trying hard enough.” This changes your role from the supportive and encouraging parent to one who’s negative and critical.

It’s the coach’s job to monitor and correct these things, or sometimes make the judgment to ignore them for the time being, not yours. Sometimes it’s better not to know.

It might be better for you not to know that your child isn’t always attentive to the coach or isn’t always trying as hard as you think he should. Because when you know these things, your disapproval, and the stress it causes you, will inevitably get expressed. Your child needs your support, not your stress.

When you’re too physically prominent when he practices, it distracts your child from his coaches and teammates. Your child should be playing for his coach and his teammates, not for you. If you are too present, it can inhibit the natural growth of important team bonding and relationships: you become the center of gravity, not the team. We have to give our kids the room to develop their own commitment to the team and to soccer from within themselves, and from within the team environment, not imposed by you from the outside. Your child’s commitment will be much more durable if it comes from within himself.

If we make our kids’ activities too central to our adult lives, we are sending them the message that our own happiness is in part contingent on their success. That inverts the natural order of a healthy parent-child relationship, turning it upside down, and the kids can feel the weight of that. Many parents know this deep down inside, but still can’t help themselves from over-identifying with their kids’ soccer success. But they should try hard to resist the urge if they care about that success. Because in my experience, over-the-top parental involvement almost always backfires.

Kaz Tambi's Game Day Advice for Parents:

On the car ride to game: Avoid giving advice or coaching tips to the child relating to the upcoming game. This will only serve to prematurely induce stress and anxiety. Instead, as it is good to stimulate the mental juices prior to a competition (rather than having the child sleeping or vegetating in the car), a parent should engage in a conversation with the child on a topic that the player will enjoy. Or in the alternative, the parent can challenge the child with a verbal quiz or game, which should be fun and again cover a topic of interest for the child.

Never say anything critical about other players in front of your child. It’s all too likely your child will internalize that opinion and express it in one way or another to his teammates, or even to that player directly, and you have thereby set off an ugly sequence of gossip that will inevitably lead back negatively to your kid. It will also negatively affect team bonding, which is critical for team success.

If you are standing with a group of parents and they are criticizing the coach or other players’ play, walk away. It’s a terrible habit, and again, one way or another, your child and his team will eventually be affected by these negative -- and irrelevant -- parental opinions.

Never criticize the refereeing. It’s an awful habit to model for your children. They should be focusing on playing as well and hard as he can, and on having as much fun with their friends as possible. The ref is completely out of the player's control and so your child, and you, should ignore it. Nothing good ever comes from a parent vocally criticizing a referee, so why would you do it?

You have two choices during a game: cheer for the whole team, including but not exclusively for your child. Or stay silent. Never say anything negative out loud during a game, even if you think you’re being helpful or constructive, about your kid, your team (or in fact the other team). No good will ever come of it. Most intelligent parents know this deep down, but too many can’t seem to control themselves. Learn to control yourself.

If you cheer for your kid and his team when they are playing well, you have to be consistent and cheer for them when they are not. If you are obviously silent when you are otherwise typically vocal, your child will hear the silence as the silent critique that it is.

One simple change can go a long way in helping kids (and therefore their parents) have a healthier and more successful athletic experience. After the game, never say anything negative. Be only supportive and encouraging. Let the coaches coach, and the teammates create the team’s soccer norms and expectation for performance – not you.

The car ride home from the game is where parents most often make mistakes. Your child will generally quickly get over what happened in the game and will move on to think about dinner, homework, a playdate, or, alas, a video game. You should move on, too! Be positive and encouraging, and then quickly move on to another subject. Your child will start to dread the ride home, and eventually therefore dread soccer, if they know they will be subjected to a withering critique from you while they are trapped in the back seat. He played the game, you didn’t. Drive the car. Talk about the pizza you’re going to order. Move on.

• • •

Tambi’s advice reminds me of what Ferenc Puskas, the legendary Hungary and Real Madrid forward, once said:

"I am grateful to my father for all the coaching that he did not give me."

Read More