A month into the spring soccer season, when the weather in New England finally started to turn warm, Todd's dad began coming to practices. He arrived just in time for our water breaks, carrying a big jug of a sports drink and enough cups for all the boys.
It was a wonderful gesture. Especially happy to see him were the few ten and eleven year old boys who had forgotten to bring their own water. Todd was happiest of all. He had a chance to see how his father was supporting his team. When I had a chance to thank his father again at the end of the season, I found out what motivated his trips to practice. He told me that he could learn more about his son's progress as a soccer player from watching him practice than from seeing him play in a game. Besides, he said, he often had to work weekends when games were played.
Todd's father was very perceptive. Children "touch" the ball far more during practice than during a sixty-minute game, when the average number of touches is eighteen. Attending practice is an excellent way of letting your child know that you care about her participation in sports and that every aspect is important, not just the games, not just whether her team wins or loses, or how she performs.Parents who attend practices can become much more involved if they chose. Coaches are often eager to have an extra pair of hands to help out. It is also usually easier for parents to talk to coaches about their child before or after a practice than after a game. Parents also report that, by attending practices, they become much more knowledgeable about the skills that their child needs to practice to develop as a player.