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Dealing With Bad Calls in Youth Soccer

Dealing With Bad Calls in Youth Soccer

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We’ve all been there. We’re watching one of our son’s or daughter’s soccer games, and one of the youth soccer referees makes a bad call. Sometimes it costs the team the game, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s a reasonable mistake, and sometimes it’s completely egregious. Whatever the specifics are, we suddenly feel angry and cheated, and we let the ref have it.

This is a completely normal response for a parent, and everyone feels this way from time-to-time. However, just because it’s normal, it doesn’t mean it’s right. Think about how you feel when you see another parent acting out and berating a ref after a bad call. If only we all had two eyes in the back of our head, so we could see how we really look when we disagree with a referee. The end result is never pretty. The worst part of it is that it detracts from the kids and their game which is the whole reason any of us are there in the first place.

It’s Not About You

Remember that this is all about the kids. It’s not only about your kid or his teammates, it’s about helping all the kids in the game enjoy themselves, exercise, and learn to love the thrill of competition. When a parent starts aggressively arguing with a referee, it bogs the entire game down. Sometimes the children of the parent will start to feel very embarrassed because their father or mother has completely stopped play or is routinely interrupting the game. No matter how bad the call is, just let them play. Their enjoyment is what’s most important.

Teach Them the Right Lessons

There are so many lessons that children learn from playing in organized sports. They learn about practice and hard work, cooperating in a team, and leadership and confidence. A bad call by a referee is a perfect opportunity to show your child how to act respectful and poised even during adversity and unfairness. Life is frequently unfair, but that doesn’t mean that we can stop following the rules. Swallowing your pride for a second and not arguing the call is a great way to teach your son or daughter this lesson.

There’s More to Sports than Winning

You should also do your best to teach the kids that winning isn’t everything. You can’t win them all, and learning how to graciously accept defeat is one of the most important lessons your child can learn. By accepting the bad call but still finding ways to enjoy the game and move forward, you’ll be teaching your son or daughter that there’s a lot more to competition than winning and losing, and this is a lesson that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Give the Referee a Break

In the heat of the moment, you may be thinking this referee is horrible at his or her job. You might even be thinking that he’s trying to help the other team win. We all get these ideas in our head when we get a little too worked up, but this is sign that you should step back. Remember that the referee is an adult just like you. He has no stake in a youth sports competition and is just doing the best job that he can.

The referees often are paid very little or nothing at all, but love the game and love seeing the young kids play. Like anyone, they make mistakes, but that’s no reason to ruin their day or give them a hard time. If all else fails, take a look at your kid. He’s probably forgotten about the bad call and is already back to having fun. You can learn a lot from him too!


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