As a 3 sport-athlete most of my life, I had numerous experiences with my parents watching games and sometimes even training sessions. I made “the ride home” after practice and games more times than I can count. Thousands of times. As I reflect back, I get a clearer picture of why soccer was my favorite sport, and what made me continue to pursue it.
There are the obvious reasons. I was good at it. Fast, strong, athletic. I liked the fast pace of the game; no stoppages, no time-outs for instruction. My teammates and I had to figure it out on the field, and win or lose as a result. I love the team aspect of the sport. You can form bonds that last a lifetime. Teammates and coaches push you to be better every day; you suffer through the physical training together.
Then there are reasons that are there, but are under the surface. The other two sports I played (baseball/softball and basketball) my father also played. My mom had knowledge of how they worked. My dad was always there with a pointer about how I could do this better, or that better. He coached my baseball team for 5-6 years until I was 12 years old (He also coached my soccer team). I can’t be sure, but I want to say that I liked knowing a sport better than he did, I had something to call my own, and when I left his rec team at U11, I was “above his pay-grade” in what I was learning and doing in the sport. In middle school and high school, I can remember hearing him from the sidelines on the baseball field, and the basketball court. But I can’t remember him saying anything from the soccer sideline.
I’m not a parent. I don’t know exactly what it is like to watch the child you raised play a sport you love. But I’m pretty sure it shouldn’t involve stress. This should be enjoyable. Soccer is a fun activity, where kids can play freely and shouldn’t feel any pressure except for the expectations of their teammates and coaches, and the standards they set for themselves. As a parent (and often I find myself as a coach applying this rule), the most important thing you can say to your child is “I love watching you play, that was fun!” Regardless of the outcome.
And leave it at that. Because at the end of the day, they just want to go home and be your kid, not your soccer player.