Football is fun, but it can do a lot more for children than just provide enjoyment. The Kids Coach Naomi Richards looks at the life lessons that children can learn from playing the beautiful game.
Playing football can be fun for those that are participating in the sport. Football is great exercise and it gets children running around in the fresh air. It also teaches children many life skills.
Skills such as how to play as a team, respecting others' opinions and the decisions their team mates make on the field. It teaches children about fairness, sportsmanship and how to share. There are so many life skills that they learn on the pitch and hopefully these are the same life skills that we are teaching at home. One backs up the other.
If we were going to make a list of these life skills what would they be? In addition to the ones mentioned above I am going to focus on five:
Football is a much better game when you share the ball! If your child does then others are more likely to pass it to them when they have it. Sharing is a needed life skill when playing football. Explain to your child that it is hard to play as a team if they keep the ball all to themselves. In other areas of life the more we share hopefully the more we get back.
Listening and co-operation
Listening is an important life skill on the field. If they listen they will know what is going on around them and be able to co-operate. They need to listen to the other players and what they are shouting, they need to listen to the ref and also to the manager. At school and at home they need to listen otherwise they won’t know what they need to know.
A game can change very quickly and a player needs to be adaptable to the conditions around them. If their team is a player down they need to adapt to the new situation quickly and get on with it. In life situations change all the time and we need our children to embrace them and think to themselves: "OK, what shall I do now?"
It is important to persevere when playing football. Help your child to not be disheartened when a pass does not go well or if they miss a shot at goal. Throughout life not everything will be easy and it will require them to keep going. Practice is the only way to improve.
This falls into two categories. One is respecting the decisions that other people make, the other is making decisions and sticking to them. We need to teach our child to respect other people’s decisions and think "they made that decision with what they knew at the time and they believed it was the right thing to do."
They must not get upset with that - only respect it. They respect others' decisions at home and so they should do this on the pitch. They also need to make decisions and stick to them. Making decisions brings with it responsibility and when wrong decisions are made our child learns from them.
Her first book, The Parent's Toolkit, shares key life tools for you to help your children successfully navigate their own childhood problems and grow up into happy, confident and resilient young adults.
The Parent's Toolkit was described by The Sun as “clear and to the point... a must-read for parents”. It is published by Vermillion and is available to buy at Amazon.co.uk.
Put your questions to The Kids Coach
If you are a parent or coach and would like Naomi's advice on any issue that might affect a young footballer, then please leave a comment below.
Any enquiries will be treated confidentially and could well be featured, anonymously, in next month's column. We hope to hear from you soon!
Other articles by The Kids Coach:
* What's in a word?
* How to reduce football stress
* Keeping the balance
* What if my child wants to quit?
* Does your child respect their peers?
* Keeping the belief going
* Football crazy, football mad
* It's the taking part that counts
* Giving young players confidence to try new things
* Parents: To shout or not to shout?
* Young footballers must see respect to show respect