Let’s Focus On The Kids, Not The Trophies

As a group, I think nine-year-olds are much better at dealing with losing than the parents of a nine-year-old. By age nine, kids are pretty good judge of talent. They understand that there are stronger players on weaker teams and weaker players on stronger teams. They are not fooled by the decals on vans, because they know that the elite clubs often don't attract the best players until U13.

One of our responsibilities as soccer parents is to teach our children athletic values. If our kids see that we aren't overly impressed with U9 trophies and championships, then they won't be overly impressed. You can go to the National Indoor Championships’ website and see all the U8, U9, and U10 champions, and they will rarely be from the same clubs that win the championships in the older age brackets.

When my kids were nine years old, I tried to find them the teams where they would receive the best coaching and have a nucleus of teammates that were as equally excited about learning the game as they were. One of the best coaches my kids had was a Dutch guy who would drive the parents crazy by putting so few players on defense. He liked seeing how his defenders could handle the one-on-one challenges and didn't mind giving up a few extra goals and losing a few more games in the process. In his mind, there was no glory to be won or lost at the younger ages. It was all about becoming a better soccer player.