Today we continue our conversation on our Core Values by looking at the second value we want to reflect which is “Team First.” This is the most challenging of the core values for us parents and I will tell you why. It’s because regardless of your passion level for the sport, we are all involved for one reason, and that is our child! So, this can be challenging because we aren’t putting all of this time, money, energy, and miles on the car for someone else’s child, are we? Most of us parents are standing on the sidelines at games and trainings focused on one person, our child! We are happy when our child plays well and bummed when they don’t. We are happy when our child starts and plays a lot, and not so happy when they don’t. Which by the way is only natural because we love our children! We want them to succeed and we are also the ones dealing with the aftermath of emotions when things don’t go well! We do all this for our kids! And that is ok! But while we are parents first, this is a team sport, and frankly the sooner we grasp that the better we will be.
So let’s take another look at our Mission Statement and Core Values. Two weeks ago, we talked about the first value which was “Positive”, and now we look at our second value which is “Team First.”
Keystone FC Parent Mission Statement – to develop high quality soccer parents who understand and reflect the mission and core values of our club.
·Club Core Values: competition - confident - commitment - team first - positive
·Parents Reflect those Values: positive - team first - commitment - confident - competition
By the time your child progresses through soccer to the big field playing 11v11 you will clearly see that soccer is a team game. There are other people involved! Now we may not be filming those other people during the games with our phones or sharing their pictures with our loved ones, but this team first mindset is a big deal because this is a team sport played with other people. I will admit that if your child is in those younger years of soccer right now it may not always look that way on little fields with big goals, where every team seems to have that one kid who looks like they drove themselves to the game and runs the entire show…but this is a team game, and just like life it’s done with other people. And anything done with other people will have its challenges. Which is a valuable life lesson that sports can teach us! But when it comes to the soccer, our children need to understand the importance of a team because we have yet to see one child win a game against eleven working together.
It's all about the team. Coaches want team players. Players like to play with team players. Colleges are after team players. As we focus so much on our individual player, every message in soccer is about the team! I mean even star players like Pele talk ‘team first.’
“I’m constantly being asked about individuals. The only way to win is as a team. Football (soccer) is not about one or two or three start players.” Pele
So you might be thinking, “Ok I get it. It makes sense for the kids to think team first, but why is it important for me as a parent? I can buy in to the idea that it’s important for the kids to pass, defend, and play as a team, but why would it be important for me to have this mentality?” Well, like it or not, you are part of the team too! I know your focus is on your son or daughter but it is so important that we parents have a team first mindset because it helps your child understand the bigger picture and also builds into the environment of your team which in turn helps build into the health and passion of your child!
This mindset is a big deal, but it's so clear, this is the most challenging of the core values for us parents to receive. Why? It's tough because our focus is our own child and because it involves us having to deal with other people, who are also focused on their own child! So, there we all are, staring at and focused on our own child which can make for some serious tension on the parent sidelines…but it doesn’t stop there! Let’s add more challenges to it! Let’s add other people, other families and parents, and also the coaches, and club leaders who are so important to our child’s development. Why stop there? Let’s throw in competition, tryouts, and the tensions of playing time and positioning. So, this sounds tough right? Well let’s add more to it with other teams who we compete against who don’t always have the same goals and standards that we do and also bring another group of parents all focused on their individual children and lets throw all of this into the mix! I think it makes it clear how challenging it can be to engage this value more than any of the others!
While it will be an uphill battle, it is important, and we can get there. I would like to share five ways we parents can reflect this core value and find this “team first mindset.”
First – Remember The Bigger Picture – As a parent it isn’t easy but try from time to time to pull your focus off of your child and see the bigger picture. This is important because we can be so focused on our own child that we can forget the team. We want our child playing a specific position or getting max playing time without considering the team impact. We leave games where the team is successful upset because our child wasn’t as involved as we would like while ignoring the team’s success. We get frustrated with our coach who is making decisions for all involved, while balancing immediate team success with future development. We see issues with the team that we can fix by playing our child in the position we want while ignoring the team mindset. Sometimes we just need to take a deep breath, step back, and remember the bigger picture.
Second – Remember to Communicate and Help Out! – One of the best ways a parent can build into the team is to help out. Take the time to listen to your coach! Read their emails. Understand their goals for your child and the team. Respond to them and communicate. Make sure you to let your coach know your child’s availability in a timely manner so they can plan and schedule things. Another way to help, get involved! Pick up a cone from time to time after training, maybe carry the soccer bag to his or her car (when we aren’t in a Global Pandemic) Maybe the best thing you could do is to say thank you to those who lead, coach, and serve your child from time to time, it goes a long way.
Third – Remember Other People Are Involved! – Did you ever think about what your coach is going through during a tough loss? What about what your coach is going through during tryouts? What about how they must feel after a long tournament weekend? Have you ever thought about how the boy or girl that is captain feels as they try to lead their team? Have you thought about how the last player coming off the bench feels or what their parents are feeling? How about the kid who takes the penalty kick, ever wonder how much pressure they feel? What about the player who makes the big mistake that costs the team the game or the child who is struggling to keep up with the others in game? How about the goalie’s parents, how stressful must that be? How about the referee ever wonder how they feel as they ref the game? I think trying to place yourself in other people’s shoes or cleats in these moments will go a long way!
Fourth – Remember to Stay Engaged – Life with people is challenging and sometimes the most important thing you can do is stick with it...stay engaged. I know I can struggle with this. For me when life is really challenging or people respond in a way I’m not fond of, I tend to just want to pull away…it’s certainly easier but it’s not helpful. Stay engaged. Push through that tension and understand that you have value to add to the team which is needed! It will be messy at times as we bump into other people who are figuring it all out too but stick with it and build into the culture! It’s easier to stay out of it and to observe from a distance but get involved and make a difference!
Fifth – Remember to Focus On The Positives! – Listen, no matter where you go, or what you do there will be positives and negatives in every situation. There is no perfect organization, or club, or team, or environment that involves people. So do your best to look for and focus on the positives. Find the positives and talk about them. Share them with others rather than the negatives you see and be grateful for those positives! When things don't go as we plan it’s easy to focus on the negatives and maybe even to find others who will agree with you on those negatives you see…this only pulls your mindset and the team culture the wrong way. There is good in every situation, even in adversity...find it, focus on it, and share it, which builds into every aspect of the team!
Listen this isn’t easy. It is tough but we can do it. Remember these 5 tips and stick with it! This mindset goes a long way for your team culture and your child’s passion for the game!
We will see you in two weeks when we talk about our next Core Value which is "Commitment!”