So your child is dreaming of becoming a footballer. Whether they simply want to brush up their skills to play really well for fun or on a school team, or they have serious ambitions for a professional life in the sport, the beautiful game is about a whole lot more than sporting skills.
Footie involves elegant dribbling, brilliant penalty shooting and intelligent, effective tackling. It's a multi-faceted thing. But there's a lot you can do, as a parent, to boost your child's chances of success and improve their enjoyment of the game, and you don't need to be an expert in football or a skilled footballer yourself. Here's what you need to know.
How to prepare your child for a lifelong love of football
Great communication skills are an important advantage in football, just as they are in every team sport. Being in a team is all about effective communication, providing your fellow players with the valuable information they need to make the best on and off-ball decisions under pressure, in a split second.
The finest teams in the world got where they are thanks to exceptional in-team communications skills. In fact it's such a dramatic, free-flowing game that good communication can make all the difference, transforming possession into a goal. Your job as a parent? To set an example and actually teach your child what it means to communicate well. There's some excellent advice here (link to https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/302-how-to-support-your-child-s-communication-skills )
Teamwork is another desirable attribute for footballers of every age. Some people are natural team players, others are naturally more independent and can struggle to work well in teams. Mastering the art of teamwork will help your child succeed at school and throughout their lives. It hones their essential social skills, things like patience, empathy, communication, respect and trust for their fellow humans, compromise and tolerance, and also boosts their confidence.
As a parent you can encourage team-working skills at home. Can you form a team to do the washing up and make it a fun activity? Things like problem-solving tasks, group play with other children, group reading, group music, and playing other team sports all help develop good teamwork skills in youngsters.
A healthy lifestyle is a must for every child, especially when they want to play sport and do it well. And it's something that is almost completely under your control as a parent, something you can make certain of, at least when they're at home. A healthy lifestyle involves getting enough sleep – more sleep than you might imagine, actually – small children need as much as 12 hours a night and teens, like adults, need 8-9 hours. These days a meat-free diet is widely understood to be the healthiest of all, and freshly cooked food is always best, including lots of fruit, veg, and water instead of fizzy drinks. Exercise, the pillar of good health, is absolutely essential – the more they get, the better. Enrolling your child on a regular football coaching for kids class is a good way to help them lead a healthier lifestyle.
Positive football imagery is a great thing, revealing to your child the way the world's best players behave, perform and act, whether their team wins or loses. Head for YouTube and line up a load of positive football clips for them to enjoy, and watch them along with your child. It's a brilliantly simple way to breed good habits, reveal the complexities of the game and the way the players handle themselves, and show them the dizzy heights of brilliance they can achieve if they work hard enough.
Last but not least professional support means a great deal, so make sure you send your child off for lessons with your local kids football coaching service. Your child will learn from their fellow team mates, learn from the coach, and absorb the game fully, focusing on improving their play, their attitude, and their enjoyment.
Do all of the above and you'll prepare your child for a lifetime's love of the beautiful game, able to learn the skills they need to play well, interact with others well, and either win or lose just as gracefully.