5 Dos and Don’ts of Parenting a College Student-Athlete

VCU-MSoc-Photo[1]The transition from club or high school soccer to college soccer creates several challenges for student-athletes at the Division I, II and III levels. Student-athletes must adjust to more-structured environments, more frequent and rigorous training sessions, roommates, academic loads and living on their own for the first time. Athletic departments like ours across the country hold orientation programming for student-athletes to ease the adjustment to college life and start the student-athletes in a positive direction.

The difficult transition is not limited to student-athletes alone.

Parents of college student-athletes struggle with the transition from high school to college as much (if not more) than the student-athletes themselves.

Think about it. As a parent, you have driven thousands of miles, watched hundreds of games and listened to a million conversations about your kids’ games over the last umpteen years.

Youth sports pervaded all aspects of your personal life more than anything else.

Youth soccer is a commitment from the child and from the parents. Nights, weekends and vacations – all spent on youth soccer since your child played U6, especially when you parent an elite-level athlete.

The excitement that you feel about the journey your son or daughter will take over the next four years is perfectly normal, as is the anxiety you may feel.

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The Exciting Room for Growth in Player and Coaching Development via ODP

Girls ODP CampI spent the past week coaching at Girls Region I Camp at the University of Rhode Island. If my memory serves me correctly, it was 18 years since my previous visit to Region I Camp as a coach and over 25 years since I attended as a player.

It was tremendous to be back.

A couple of my former coaches were still at it – John Daly from William & Mary was working with the U-16 girls program and, with moments of nostalgia, I found myself coaching alongside Terry Underkoffler - one of my first goalkeeper coaches, and John Gregg – a lifelong friend and high school training partner.

In recent years, there has been significant youth soccer league expansion and development, directly impacting the depth and quality of players available to tryout for and play with the US Youth Soccer ODP. The advent of the Boys' Development Academy and the Girls' ECNL has, in many areas of the country, removed the most talented players from the ODP mix – leaving a secondary pool of players available for the ODP program.

Instead of being discouraged by the drop off in the overall skills and quality of the players at the ODP camp last week compared to 18 years ago – I found myself excited for the vast possibilities that exist when it comes to the development of the game in the United States.  I was struck by the importance of teaching and properly educating these ODP players, the opportunity that exists with each of them, as a means of developing the game.

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Lori Lindsey and Her Relationship with Her Crazy (and Loving!) Soccer Dad

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In this SoccerParenting.com interview, Lori Lindsey, retired U.S. Women's National Team Player, Professional Player and Collegiate Standout - discusses her relationship with her dad, affectionally called "Crazy Larry Lindsey."  Lori and SoccerParenting.com founder, Skye Eddy Bruce talk about:

  • Lori's early years and her father's plans for her and her brother in terms of soccer (and life) development.
  • Lori's 13 year old rebellion and burn out when she left the game.
  • How Lori came back to the game and learned to enjoy the process of training and development.

Follow Lori Linsey on twitter!

Check out Lori's blog.

Follow Lori on Facebook!

Learn more about how she is impacting athletes at her Washington, D.C. area gym - Ambitious Athletics


 

Lori Lindsey on Developing Stronger, Resilient and Injury Free Athletes

Lori Lindsey - Part 2

In this interview Lori Lindsey, retired U.S. Women's National Team player and fitness expert - co-owner of a gym in the Washington, D.C. area - Ambitious Athletics - and SoccerParenting.com founder, Skye Eddy Bruce, discuss:

  • How parents can support their children in their desire to be an elite performer
  • How we can help our athletes be stronger, resilient and injury free - even when specializing.
  • How more does not always equal better.
  • Advice for parents on helping their children find the time to strength train.

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Lori Lindsey and Her Path to the U.S. National Team & Advice for Parents

Copy of Lori Lindsey - Part 1 (1)In this interview Lori Lindsey, retired U.S. Women's National Team player, professional athlete and collegiate standout talks with SoccerParenting.com founder, Skye Eddy Bruce, about:

  • Lori's personal path to the National Team
  • What her first National Team Camp was like
  • How she was different when she left than when she arrived
  • What mentality is required for National Team players
  • Advice for parents who have had children invited to a camp or Training Center, and not invited back.
  • and more!

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Summer Break – Soccer Break

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My daughter finished her LAST final exam yesterday. Don’t we all remember that rush of adrenaline as we did the same when we were kids?  That feeling of freedom that comes with the notion of having absolutely no school work to do is certainly a memorable one.

I have to say, I am probably as excited about her LAST ECNL games next week as much as the last final.

I am looking forward to my child having some downtime from the rather constant physical demands she has experienced since last August 6 when her “Pre-Season” began. Clearly soccer is not school, but I want her to experience a similar feeling of freedom to relax at the end of her season just as she did with the completion of her last exam.

Quite simply, our elite soccer players need a break – physically and mentally - from the game. Read more...

What is a Soccer Club?

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What is a soccer club? Who is the club? What does the club do?

These are commonly asked questions, and depending on whom you ask you will get a different answer from each person. If you ask a world soccer enthusiast, they will tell you it is a place of pride. If you ask an American soccer enthusiast, they will tell you it is a theory in our country. If you ask the average soccer parent, they will tell you they do not know or it is the team's name across the front of the jersey.

This will be an attempt to clarify the definition and purpose of a true soccer club in our country. Moreover, this will help you to understand what our soccer club is all about and the overall philosophy. First, a definition.

A soccer club is a community oriented organization whose purpose is to develop individual and team soccer excellence in order to compete at the highest level each individual and team is capable.

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Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD)

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As parents, we need to understand the general concepts of Long Term Athletic Development so we are able to make the best decisions for our children when it comes to youth soccer. The LTAD Model, first introduced by Canada Sport for Life (formerly working under the Canadian Sport Institute) – has since been adopted by many organizations as best practices when it comes to youth and sport.

The LTAD Model is based on sport research, coaching best practices and scientific principles with the overriding idea to optimize the development of young athletes.

The model is divided into 7 Stages and has 10 Key Factors. In this article, I will be explaining the 7 Stages and how they relate to youth soccer.  I will delve into the 10 Key Factors in a future article on SoccerParenting.com.

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Affordable Club-Wide Membership Programs

clubprogram.jpgThe Institute for Soccer Parenting is excited to introduce the Club-wide Membership Program, a demonstration of the Institute's strong commitment to engaging and educating parents of youth soccer players.

For information about the program, please contact Skye Eddy Bruce, founder of the Institute for Soccer Parenting via email Skye@SoccerParenting.com or phone 804-467-7041.

 

Development – Not Winning

DEAR COACH-

The more I talk to parents and coaches the more I realize there are fundamental misconceptions that affect our relationship - and therefore our children, such as:

Coaches always say they feel pressure from parents to win, yet parents always say they care more about development than winning.

Share this with your child's coaches so they know how you feel.

Project Play – Project Parent

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This past Tuesday I attended the Project Play Summit in Washington, DC – organized by The Aspen Institute. The Summit, seeking to reimagine sports in America with health and inclusion as core values, congregated over 400 youth sport leaders from the United States for a day-long discussion about the “State of Play” in the United States. We tackled areas such as Reintroducing Free Play, Encouraging Sport Sampling, Training All Coaches, Physical Literacy and more.

We need all children to play sports and to continue playing sports into their teenage years and beyond because healthy teenagers become healthy adults.

Personally, highlights of the day were listening to Billie Jean King discuss her early days of tennis and her positive relationship with her first coach, observing the interaction between first lady Michelle Obama and her brother, Craig Robinson, during their candid discussion led by Michael Wilbon, regarding youth sports "then and now," listening to Caitlin Morris, Sr. Director of North American Global Community Impact for Nike lead a panel discussion about Design for Development and being struck with her strong leadership qualities and therefore hopeful for the role our manufactures can play in supporting grassroots youth sports, and a post-Summit dinner with many of the soccer attendees - Sam Snow, Tom Turner, John O’Sullivan, Anthony DiCicco and Stephanie Gabbert where we “solved” the soccer issues we face in the United States with the help of some margaritas. Read more...

Systems of Play – Team Organization

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As the game has progressed in the United States – it’s growth evident by the increased television programming, radio shows dedicated to the sport, expanding levels of professional leagues, and increasingly educated coaches – the terminology that is casually used has become more advanced as well. 20 years ago, you never would have heard a TV broadcaster mention the 4-2-3-1 formation a team was playing in or referencing player numbers such as the attacking runs from the “7” or have a coach, in a post game meeting with parents, casually mention that the team switched from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 during the second half.

This growth of the game, plus the new U.S. Soccer’s guidelines for the size of playing fields and teams that includes information about Team Organization, has resulted in some questions from parents.

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The Language of Soccer

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I am always absolutely amazed when the winner of a PGA tour event is being interviewed on TV after a round of golf and they can remember the second shot on 7, or the drive they hit on15. I rarely remembered details from my games when I was playing (a long time ago).

However, I remember so many details of the first game I played as a freshman at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. I have no idea who we were playing, what the score was, if I made any saves – nothing about that.

What I remember is the exhilarating sounds and palpable excitement coming from the stands as a seemingly misfit band of older men with their drums and noisemakers and chants and cheers lived vicariously through every pass, tackle, shot and save we made – the intensity of their cheers ebbing and flowing with the game.

I could see their smiles and watch them lean on each other in laughter as I stole glimpses of them throughout the game.

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The Soccer Tryout Time of Year

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Soccer Tryouts.

The time of year when we find ourselves lying awake in bed at night stressing over the future of our young soccer player.

The time of year when we find our hearts beating in our throats as we drop our kids off to a game or practice, trying not to put too much pressure on them to perform well but wanting to make sure they know that every single touch they have on the ball, or run they make off the ball, or communication they have with the coach – may make the difference on their name being on the final roster. Read more...

Sweeper – Keeper

Downtown United Soccer ClubThis past weekend was our Spring season Youth Academy Showcase event (U9-U11 boys and girls) where teams from all over the state converged on Greensboro, NC to play in a 2 day/3 game format. Our players really look forward to this event because we get to match up against teams we haven’t seen before…not to mention all of the ‘off the field’ stuff which provides plenty of opportunities for the players to bond while running from hotel room to hotel room and splashing around in the pool.

This was an eye opening experience for me this weekend with my U11 boys team.  We had primarily been playing 6v6 all season. This weekend we played 8v8 on what seemed to be a gigantic field. The players adjusted well for the most part.

I found myself in a coaching conundrum though.

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Don’t Call Me A “Soccer Mom”

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Let me tell you a secret. If you want to upset me, make my heart rumble a bit and the hair on the back of my neck stand up, there’s only one thing you need to do:

Call me a “Soccer Mom.”

I loath the term “Soccer Mom.”

Many of you may feel otherwise – and possibly some of you even like being called a Soccer Mom. Really – it’s not the name that I am bothered by. My disdain for the term is certainly not a gender issue.

For me, the moniker is an oversimplification – as if the unique qualities and traits, skills and abilities, talents and experiences us moms bring to the table are not being recognized. When someone calls me a Soccer Mom – even if they are well intentioned – I feel put into a box, lumped en masse, fallen victim to the misguided assumption that everyone feels the same, reacts the same, and has the same experiences.

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Do You Love Watching Your Kids Play?

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I spent a recent Saturday morning on the sidelines at the soccer fields during the Jefferson Cup tournament in Richmond, Virginia. I was distributing marketing materials for The Institute for Soccer Parenting and found myself at the fields where the U-10 teams were playing because I ran into some friends at their children’s game.

I love watching kids this age play the game!

The game of soccer is starting to take shape as developmentally players this age are becoming aware of others on the field and, instead of reacting to the game, they are thinking and responding to the game.   You sometimes see overlapping runs, through balls, solid defensive shape and improved technical skills.

Something struck me, though, as I watched the games and listened to the parents. I became acutely aware of this fact:

This is a uniquely stressful time to be a soccer parent.

Why?

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Youth Soccer Spotlight Podcast with Skye Eddy Bruce

Check out the latest Youth Soccer Spotlight Podcast with guest Skye Eddy Bruce

I was thrilled to join Football.com's Youth Soccer Spotlight recently.

Grab a cup of coffee and have a listen!

Football.com’s Youth Soccer Spotlight is an exciting and informative journey through the world of U.S. youth soccer. Hosts Michael Magid and Dinah Leffert discuss all of the hot topics within youth soccer, and also interview top players and coaches within the sport that offer up incredible insight that is valuable for players, coaches, and parents all across the country.

CLICK HERE!  for link to Itunes -  EPISODE 8

Coaching the Thought, the Awareness, the Decision Making

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If my 15 year old child were trying out for your team and was an exceptional player – great on the ball, quick to make decisions, moving off the ball to make the game simple for their teammates, hard working and focused, technically advanced – you would be thrilled. I can see you now, your eyes following them, arms crossed in front of you, a smile growing on your face, slightly nodding with excitement and approval…In your mind, you are saying “Ahhh, QUALITY.”

As a coach, you seek quality players because you know they provide part of the foundation for a successful season, a stellar developmental environment, and potentially less stress and more fun.

As a parent, I seek a quality coach.

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Join the Movement for a Quality Soccer Experience for all Children

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I am often asked why I started SoccerParenting.

It’s a long story that comes down to one word: QUALITY.

My daughter’s U-8 soccer environment was not one of quality. The fields and facilities were excellent but the instruction and inspiration for learning was lacking.

The lack of quality made me stressed – and while there are many stresses parents feel on the sidelines as our children grow up in the game – if I peeled back the layers of my stress – at the core – was the lack of a quality environment.

This is a challenging subject for any soccer parent to bring up to a coach or a club.

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5 Ways a Parent Can Support a Child with a Slow-To-Develop Athletic Mentality

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While in North Carolina last week working for the Changing the Game Project and giving a talk for parents with Waxhaw Soccer Club about “Creating a Player First Environment in Youth Soccer” I found myself, once again, answering questions from a couple of stressed soccer parents seeking advice regarding how to help their children be more focused, more committed and live up to their athletic potential.

I think this situation, which I also encountered with my own child, is often the result of a child who has athletic potential but a slow-to-develop athletic mentality.

Just as kids develop differently athletically and have various levels of athletic potential, kids develop different mentally and have various levels of athletic mentality.

As parents, we need to step back and evaluate our actions closely when we expect our children to be as mature and focused and serious and committed as the most talented of their peers – and they are just not there yet. This is a situation that often leads to stress in the parent-child-family relationships and it is sometimes these children who burn out or drop out of the sport.

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Will U.S. Soccer’s early-specialization decree trigger unintended consequences?

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This article originally appeared on SoccerWire.com and is republished here with their permission.

With the recent news from U.S. Soccer announcing the launch of a Girls Developmental Academy in 2017, and the mandate that players in the DA will not be allowed to play other sports or in other competitions, I am reflective of the lessons I learned as a multi-sport athlete – and as the parent of one, too.

What athletic qualities will the young athletes affected by the DA soccer-only mandate have five to 10 years from now, when they are entering the college and professional ranks as a result of their non- participation in other sports?

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Just Like Schools, Great Soccer Clubs Have Great Teachers and Active Parents

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For 24 years, I had the privilege of making an attempt to impact young people’s lives whilst serving as a physical education teacher. For 12 of those years, I wore two hats; that of PE and health teacher as well. I was a firm believer that not only were educators responsible for educating kids from the neck up so to speak, but from the neck down as well.

Leaving school each day brought about the next phase of my day; that of soccer coach. In the early years I spent time at the youth level as well as coaching high school soccer. Following my years as a high school coach came 24 years at the collegiate level.

My interest in educating soccer players at all levels became a passion which led me toward becoming a coach educator with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

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High School Soccer – To Play or Not to Play.

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I’m just going to come right out and say it…

I didn’t want my daughter to play high school soccer.

For those of us with children playing at a high level, this is often a difficult situation.

I know – I hear some of you right now…the gasps…I see you shaking your heads.

But let's not get critical of each other as our children make these decisions.

I consistently work to navigate this very confusing path of wanting to help my child live up to HER goal of playing soccer in college while simultaneously making sure it’s FUN and that the path is her own. Read more...