Tarkill Mission Statement
Tarkill Mission Statement
Tarkill Soccer Club is dedicated, first and foremost, to the member families of the Sterling District (Hi-Nella, Laurel Springs, Magnolia, Somerdale, and Stratford). We will strive to create an environment that will provide each player with a valuable learning experience, an opportunity to improve their soccer skills, entry into higher levels of soccer and a chance to be part of an improving program. We will support these principles by improving individual skills through well-structured practice sessions and playing games at the highest competitive age-appropriate level possible, increasing the tactical element of team play through coach development and by using soccer as a vehicle to promote fair play, self-confidence and good citizenship. Our organization's success will be measured by how well we accomplish our objectives, not by win/loss records. We will abide by the rules and regulations of the New Jersey Youth Soccer organization (NJYS) and its affiliate leagues, specifically, the South Jersey Soccer League (SJSL) boys travel league and the South Jersey Girls Soccer League (SJGSL) girls travel league, United States Youth Soccer Association (USYSA) and FIFA, as well as the other local leagues in which our Recreation level teams play.
Excellent article for the Parent spectator
One of the more enjoyable experiences I have each fall is watching my three children play soccer. To see their growing skills and love for the game is truly a blessing. I can now confess, however, that I could have made it even more fun for both them and for me had I been a little bit more relaxed and far quieter on the sidelines. You see, until recently, I was your typical loud and obnoxious soccer dad. In the last few years, I have learned a few hard lessons that have put me on the path to recovery.
My kid's not Pele and that's ok....
I am a sports fan. I have watched a lot of college and pro sports on TV. Yet until soccer I did not watch much youth sports. The difference is appalling. I used to whine, groan and throw up my hands with every mistake the players made.
I now realize how silly I was acting. First, these kids are just . . . well . . . KIDS! They are changing both mentally and physically every week. Of course they are going to make mistakes on the field that's how they learn to play the game. They felt bad enough kicking at the ball and missing; you can imagine how they must have felt to hear me moan about it.
Second, my kids probably inherited the same athletic ability that I have. To be blunt, they likely will not be professional athletes. I cannot hold them to the same standards I might hold Mia Hamm or Cobi Jones. I am learning to put my expectations in perspective and enjoy the game for what it is: recreational youth soccer.
My kid's coach is not Bruce Arena and that's ok....
I also used to gripe to my kids about their coaches, questioning their competence. One year, my older daughter's coach would limit his sideline coaching to screaming at every chance: "Follow the ball!" We would then watch all of the kids swarm the ball like frenzied killer bees. Why doesn't the Coach teach the kids to spread out, to pass the ball, to look up when they dribble? What is he doing in practice?
Then I volunteered to coach my younger daughter's team. I quickly learned that this can be an impossible job. Not only are the kids not professional athletes, but most are not yet developmentally ready to grasp the finer points of soccer. They soon tired of my instructions and became restless. From that point they turned to rioting. I was armed with some cones and a whistle, but what I really needed was a whip and a chair.
With the girls I tried yelling and some ended up crying. I learned to gently prod them to action, encouraging them to act out and not be afraid of being physical. This year I tried the same thing with my son's team. The boys ended up attacking each other like crazed baboons. How can you teach those nifty cross-over dribbling moves when the boys are giving each other wedgies during my demonstrations. I still gripe about the coaches, but I do so to my wife, privately, with a far greater appreciation for the difficult job that they have chosen.
My kid can play without me and that's ok....
Another temptation that I often gave in to, even when I was not the coach, was instructing my kids while they played. I used to think it was appropriate to stand on the touch line and yell: "Pass the ball to Sara!" and "Shoot the ball to the left!!" I can still remember being told by a more enlightened soccer mom to get away from the goal and stop coaching my son Willie when he was a 5 year old keeper. My actual ignorant retort: "Lady, get off my back. I am helping here!!"
I now know better. First, I read in an article that most children cannot properly play the game and, at the same time, follow a coach's directions. By the time they hear me, process what I said, and then act on it, the opportunity to act is lost. My instructions were actually hurting them on the field! Besides, if they depend on me to instruct them while they are playing, how will they learn to make decisions on their own when they can't hear me.
Another article also got me thinking. Did I stand behind my daughter Dominique while she worked on a coloring book and scream at her: "In the lines, Nique! You must color in the lines!! Use Green!! Use Green for the grass! No, Nique, not blue! Green!!" Of course I didn't. (Okay, I admit I did that with Madeleine, my oldest child, but I was much younger then.) Why should soccer be any different?
Then, after refereeing a few games, I realized how inane my own screaming had been. In the middle of the field, my voice was being drowned out by other parents who feel duty-bound to scream too. Julie's dad is yelling: "Shoot, shoot." I am yelling: "Pass, pass." You are yelling: "Stop her, stop her." It all becomes confusing, stressful noise in the middle of the field. While I am not yet an advocate of "Silent Saturdays," I now certainly see the point of sitting back and letting my kids play without my "help."
The referee is not a professional and that's ok....
When I first started watching soccer, I had no idea what the rules were. But I was certain of one thing: the referees in my kids' games were bozos and I openly let them know about it with each missed call.
It was only when I was forced into refereeing to make up for the shortage in my region that I realized how wrong I was. Refereeing is a very tough and demanding job. You have to run in the hot sun over uneven fields for an hour or more, all the time dodging little people. You make split second decisions on calls that require a deeper understanding of the game than I had imagined. You have to put up with coaches and parents who are loud and often ignorant of the rules.
I discovered that many of the ref's decisions I had challenged as "psycho dad," were simply judgment calls. Just because my watch says that the game should be over does not mean that the referee must agree with me. And on that offside call, the assistant referee probably had a much better view of the second-to-the-last defender than I had, pacing behind the coach.
I also learned that in soccer, unlike other sports I grew up with, there is a rule stating that dissent from a referee's call is misconduct. Go figure! You don't like calls? Get on the phone to your local region's referee administrators, and volunteer. Its amazing how good those black knee-high socks look on overweight, middle-aged guys like me.
So I am slowly learning that soccer should be about the kids, not about me nor the other adults. It should be about playing a game, not performing for parents and coaches. Get the kids away from TV and the Internet, interacting with friends and having FUN. It is not life and death out there. Relax and enjoy the game.
Now at my kids' games, you can usually find me in my folding chair, under an umbrella, teasing the coaches and other parents for screaming like maniacs at their kids. I try, not yet always successfully, to limit my comments to after-the-fact praising of the kids on both teams "Nice shot." "Beautiful pass." And every once in a while I will add, in a loud voice: "Follow the ball!" While it adds to the noise on the touch lines, sometimes my own child will hear me and reward me with a wonderful smile. It's moments like that when I now truly love this game.
The Importance of Parental Involvement in Youth Sports
Parents, when it comes to the impact you have on your child’s sporting experience, do not underestimate your influence. Children learn from watching others and copying the behavior they see demonstrated. It is most often the parent who is the first person to introduce a child to sports, and parental involvement can affect whether a child enjoys the experience or not (1, 2, 3).
Parental involvement in sports can be looked at as a continuum from not involved at all to over-involved (3). It can range from low to high and from positive to negative. Positive involvement includes supporting your child through ways such as verbal encouragement, your presence at a game, allowing your child to make his/her own decisions about what sport to participate in, and providing financial and other resources that enable his/her participation. Negative involvement refers to directive behavior, and pressure to win or perform up to a parent’s expectations. Recent research has shed light onto the relationship between parental involvement and the type of youth sports experience a child has.
It is not surprising that the research overwhelmingly points to a connection between positive, supportive parental involvement and a child’s level of enjoyment and success in the sport he or she is playing. (1, 2, 3, 4). It has also been suggested that a moderate level of involvement would be the optimum level of parental involvement (1). Hellstedt (1) theorized that over-involved parents may create high levels of pressure, while under-involved parents do not provide enough support to facilitate a child’s desire to participate. But those parents who are moderately involved seem to provide just the right balance not only to facilitate enjoyment, but also to challenge the child to continue to grow and develop his/her skills. On the surface, this theory seems to hold up. Without support, especially financial and emotional, it would be very difficult for a child to be able to participate, and the pressure felt from the parent who is over-involved could easily take out all the enjoyment of playing sports.
However, what appears to be the most significant finding is that it may not actually be what you do that affects your child’s experience. Rather what appears to be important is how your child perceives what you do (2, 3). For example, you might be classified by others as a parent who does not seem very involved, yet if your child perceives your support and feels that your level of involvement is just right, they would be more likely to have an enjoyable experience than another child in the same situation who did not feel like their parent’s level of involvement was optimal.
So how do you know if your level of support and involvement is optimal? Simple - ask your child. Stein et al. (3) recommend that you discuss with your child the ways in which you are involved, and ask your child how he or she wants you to be involved. They also recommend discussing with your child things that you might do involving their sports participation that could be perceived as stressful for your child, and also things that your child enjoys. If your child feels you are a bit over-involved, it may be difficult to hear. The best thing you can do for them in this case is to really take to heart how they feel and reduce your involvement if necessary, no matter how much it hurts.
Parents: How is your Behavior?
Sean Cumming and Martha Ewing of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports warned against parents becoming over-involved emotionally. This could mean being “excitable” or “fanatical.” They even go as far as to say that the fanatical parent can pose a serious risk to the development of the child (1). Take a moment to reflect on your own behavior during your child’s sporting events. How do you compare?
|The Excitable Parent (1)
||The Fanatical Parent (1)
||You put great amounts of pressure on
your child to succeed
|You find yourself getting caught up in
the heat of the moment
|Your children frequently argue with the
coach or ref
|At games you yell out instructions to
anyone and everyone on the field
|Your children do not put much effort
into or show enjoyment of practice
|You rush out onto the field at the
slightest hint of injury to your child
|You are controlling and confrontational
|You are overly concerned with the
outcome of the game
|The reason you have your kids in sports
is to win trophies
|Your child will definitely make the pros
In contrast to the emotionally over-involved parent is the authoritative parent. Research into different parenting styles has revealed that the authoritative parenting style seems to be the most successful (2). Here are some characteristics of an authoritative sports parent.
|The Authoritative Sports Parent (2)
The Role of the Sport Parent
As parents, your job is to love your kids and try to provide the best for them. When
it comes to youth sports, however, too many parents seem to lose all notion of what
is best for their kids. It is a telling sign that virtually every youth sports league in the
country has enacted some measure to curb violence and negative behavior by
parents. Some leagues have even gone so far as to not let parents utter a single
word during the game, calling it Silent Saturdays.
As enticing as it may seem to some league administrators, taking the parents out of
youth sports is not the best solution to the problem. Parents have an important role
to play, and the role that the parent does play can impact a child’s interest and
enthusiasm for sport for years to come. Studies have shown a positive relationship
between parents who are involved with their child’s sporting activities and the child’s
enjoyment of the activity, participation in physical activities and continued
participation in youth sports (1). That is to say the right type of parental
involvement can help a child to have a positive youth sports experience that
motivates him or her to want to continue playing sports.
Sean Cumming and Martha Ewing of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports say
the role of the parents in youth sports is to provide support for your child, both
emotionally and financially, without becoming over-involved to the point of being
fanatical (1). Providing the proper emotional support can be difficult in an adult
society that emphasizes winning, or the product of the performance, and social
comparisons. It is important to step back and remember that children are not mini-
adults and we cannot have the same expectations for our child that we would have
for a professional athlete. To provide proper emotional support for your child may
mean changing your view of sports and of success and aligning it more with how
children view things. Children play sports for the fun and enjoyment of it all.
Winning  is not high on the priority list of reasons children play sports. In fact, one
thing children say  they wish they could change about sports is putting less emphasis
on winning (2).
Your kids don’t need you to yell at the ref, harass the coach about playing time, or
yell out instructions to them while they are on the playing field. This will give them a
negative opinion of you, teach them to treat adults with disrespect, and possibly
embarrass them. What they do need from you is your love and support. You can
give this by providing them with positive feedback about their performance and lots
of encouragement. It is important that you do this in a way that is sincere and does
not employ social comparisons. Kids, especially past the age of eight or nine, can tell
when your “positive” comments are just made up to help them feel better about a
bad performance. Turn the focus to their effort and personal improvement (3). It is
so critical for the development of confidence and self-efficacy that you focus not on
the final outcome, but on the improvements your child made or the things your child
did well. Did they play exceptionally hard during the game? Did they complete a skill
or a play that has previously given them difficulty? Redefine success as something
that is process oriented, not product oriented. Michael Clark of the Institute for the
Study of Youth Sports says that, “By placing the emphasis on the athletes and their
effort, winning is redefined in such a way that it comes within the reach of all” (2).
And all any parent really wants is for their child to succeed and be a winner. With this
new definition of success, what have you got to lose?
Here are some pointers to help parents re-focus on helping their children have a
wonderful youth sports experience.
|Relax and don’t take yourself so seriously.
|Remember, it’s just a game!
|Challenge yourself to redefine what success means. Success can mean being|
|ahead in the score column at the end of the game, but success can also mean
improving on skills or playing an outstanding game. Look for the little
successes your child makes in the game and focus on them more than on the
final score. This will help your child to develop a sense of accomplishment and
|Don’t compare your little Johnny to little Bobby who lives next door. Each|
|child is equally wonderful in his own unique and special way. Focus on the
wonderful qualities in your own child.
|Remember that children all grow and develop at different rates. Two children|
|who have the same birth date could be years apart developmentally. When it
comes to sports, use your child’s own developmental status to gauge what
experiences they are ready for.
|At any time should the two words “scholarship” or “professional” pop into|
|your head and your child is younger than high school-aged, immediately
replace those words with the words “fun” and “learning.” Then repeat “fun”
and “learning” as many times as it takes to get those unrealistic thoughts out
of your head. And they are unrealistic. Cumming (1) reported that a mere
“one half of one percent of all high school athletes” will make it far enough to
call themselves a professional athlete.
|Focus on creating a love of sports and physical activity at a young age. This|
|can go a long way to helping your child attain and maintain a healthy active
lifestyle as an adult, which is something many of us lack in this country.