How To Help Your Soccer Player When They Lose

If you’re a parent to a goalkeeping child then you probably already know the rough hand that keepers sometimes get dealt. Unfortunately it’s just part and parcel of being the keeper on a team.


It’s not always easy to know how best to help your child out when they are feeling at their lowest so I want to help you out with a few tips that I’ve learned in the past.

  1. Be empathetic!

    It’s natural for your first thought to be to rush in and try to reassure your child and start making suggestions about how they can improve and the like. However, sometimes the best thing you can do is start by just listening to them.

    They want to feel like they’ve been heard, same as any of us when we suffer a disappointment. I’m not saying that you have to agree with what they are saying, in fact you can disagree. But there is a point where you have to let them work out for themselves that the bad things they are feeling about themselves aren’t necessarily true - i.e. “I’m a terrible keeper” or “I shouldn’t be on the team”

    This is what will help your child become a stronger person, able to deal with the inevitable disappointments that will happen throughout their life, whether it has anything to do with being a goalkeeper or not.

  2. Control your own emotions

    When you’re watching your child, the person you created, play a game in which they end up feeling bad about themselves or disappointed in their performance - it’s normal to feel a building up of your own emotions. You have a natural instinct to protect your child and maybe a need to lash out, but you need to learn to control your emotions; especially when you’re in earshot of them.

    Avoid venting in public, complaining or blaming the other players on the pitch or even the coach as well as other outright hostile behaviours. Not only do look like a sore loser, but you may also be an embarrassment to your child, which only serves to make them feel worse.

  3. Redefine “losing” or “failure”

    Something that we often aren’t told is the value in losing. We’re often told “There are no medals for 2nd place!” and similar mantras that are usually repeated by people who don’t understand that all of the most successful in got there because they failed more than 99% of people in their field.

    Of course, losing never feels good and your child will be cut up for a while over it. It’s your job as a parent to listen to how they feel (see my first point) and then help them work out where they went wrong and how they can fix it in the future.

    I’ll leave you with this quote from Michael Jordan - one of the most successful basketball players to have ever existed:

    “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

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