Friday, April 09, 1999

Tips for surviving soccer season

Readers chip in with ways to cope

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        We asked for it, and we got it. Tristate coaches, referees and parents shared these tips on how to survive the soccer season:

        Most parents juggle soccer games with other activities of their child and other children in the family. Keeping a comprehensive schedule was high on readers survival tips list.

        If you have a personal computer, get a calendar program and print out your practice and game schedule for the season. Put a copy in the car, one on the fridge, one in the datebook and carry one with you to work to integrate with your schedule.

        Amy Fuller of Edgewood has four children who play soccer — 9-year-old twins, and 7 and 5-year-olds.

        “Within weeks of the soccer season starting, baseball season will be starting. We will have either a sports practice or a sports game six out of seven days of the week.”

        At the beginning of the season, she makes out a family soccer schedule that also includes schedules for baseball, dance and gymnastic classes and boy scout/girl scout meetings.

        “It outlines the practice times and dates, game times and dates, snack and drink schedules and a special column telling us if there is a conflict. Many times we do have conflicts. If we do, I go one way, and my husband goes another, and hopefully, we don't need to ask another family member or friend to help out.”

        Become a coach, assistant coach or league president. That way you have some control over when games and practices are scheduled.

        “Sure you cannot run things simply for your convenience, but it is much easier to juggle things around if you are the juggler,” says

        Greg Hoffman, president of Milan Youth Soccer, Milan, Ind.

        Networking is especially important for parents who have more than one child playing soccer. Inevitably, some of their practices and games are at the same time.

        Get to know other parents of children on the team. That way you can call on each other to car pool when there are scheduling conflicts.

        “Another popular tactic is to enlist extended family (anyone in the phone book with the same last name as yours) to help kids get to games and practices,” says Doug Doench of Groesbeck, who has logged 20 years as a soccer coach and parent. “The main thing is to get used to going in different directions.

        “One year, seven of our eight kids were playing on six different teams, and we really had to scramble. The worst day that year was team-picture day when everybody had a game and a photo session to attend.”

        Keeping equipment organized is important for players and spectators. Parents often complain about last minute searches for the uniform or shin guards. And on the sidelines, few soccer fields have bleachers.

        Lawn chairs for parents need to be sturdy, but light weight, since there are no close parking places near soccer fields. The chair must take up little space since it is only one of many pieces of equipment that will stay permanently in your trunk. A fold-up canvas chair in a bag is recommended.

        Keep the car stocked at all times. Have double of everything, including water bottles, shoes and tape, towels, trash bags and rain gear. Load the car with blankets, sun screen, sunglasses, hats and umbrellas.

        For overnight trips, don't forget the cooler and credit cards.

        Parents and players should learn to dress in layers. Keep an extra set of clothes in the car in case yours get rain-drenched.

        Keep a spare shirt in case you have to give yours to the goalie. When it's time for a soccer game, Mrs. Fuller allows at least an hour to get everyone ready to go.

        “I also allow extra time for fighting over who gets the good set of shin guards (the ones the dog hasn't chewed on). We grab water bottles, snacks, drinks and load them in the cooler and hope the schedule was checked and it wasn't our turn to bring drinks or snacks for the team that week, (We haven't forgotten yet!)”

        In the spring soccer season, coping with mud is a way of life.

        “Learn to love mud, especially in the spring,” Mr. Doench says.

        Keep towels and newspapers in the back seat.

        Make the kids take their shoes off before they get in the car. Put them in the trunk and wait for the mud to dry if you can. Clap the bottom of the shoes together outside once the mud dries.

        The washing machine can usually handle most of the mud on the clothes but for overnight trips, bring laundry soap to use in the hotel bathtub to wash socks and uniforms.

        Provided the siblings are not playing on a different field (usually on the other side of town), parents have to cope with their boredom.

        • Entertain siblings with a picnic.

        • Freeze juice in plastic containers overnight. The juice will stay cool while it thaws slowly at a game.

        “Younger or older siblings can usually find other team siblings to play with or socialize with,” says Susan Martinez of West Chester. “If not or you want to provide additional entertainment, pack some snacks, crayons, books, etc. to provide a distraction and minimize the whining because you want to watch the game!

        “It's usually exciting to watch the older kids, especially when your kids makes a good play, and funny to watch the younger ones.”

How to be a good soccer sport
Coach's advice for watching children's games
- Tips for surviving soccer season

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