The Emotional Toll of Soccer

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

September 14, 2011

Soccer Levi

Levi has started soccer. Peter and I agree that playing a team sport is essential to his growing up experience. I only played a handful, but the experience, for good or ill, were very valuable. So, trying to be good parents, signing Levi up for soccer was a no brainer.

We got hand-me-down shoes from Levi’s older cousin. We learned quickly where to sign up. And, of any sport for kids — it almost seems like the most kid friendly in that they just run down the field and kick the ball. So, we registered online, wrote the check, and waited.

I am learning that soccer leagues are often quite disorganized. So, I don’t mind the waiting, even after we get the schedules and it conflicts with my work’s annual event. For the next 8 weeks, life is just going to be chaotic, and then it will calm down.

We tell Levi that soccer will be starting soon, and boy is he excited. He tries on his shin pads and shoes again. He finds his gifted size 3 ball, and really can’t get enough of the equipment. Before we know it practice has started. We have now had two practices and the first game is scheduled Friday.

The first practice went fine, albeit a little awkward. Our son is four. Learning to listen is something he works on every day. Some days he has many listening success, but still, some he does not. Monday’s practice was a little different. On Monday, Levi clearly did not understand the point of practice or the game of soccer. Peter and I are not quite sure how to explain the concept of the game to him, so poorly is what we did.

Levi had no less than four emotional meltdowns during practice, refused to participate 75% of the time, and was generally grumpy and clingy the whole time. First, his ball rolled through a chalk line and got dirty. The other times, the ball was wrapped up with the other kids, and he “lost” it, causing intense insecurity. Another time, well, we aren’t sure what happened. He was actually scrimmaging! He finally decided to participate, and then suddenly, he didn’t get to touch the ball, or something, and voila, it was over. Another melt down.

We decided to put him to bed when we got home. He slept all night, and he’s had two great days since. The game is Friday. How will the emotional four year old fair? I tried to explain the concept of the game Tuesday, but, alas, I am not convinced he was listening.

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  1. Olivia

    I think Elliott had a hard time with the overall concept of soccer and I haven’t done it yet, but am planning to take him to a Timber’s Game in the hopes that he’ll figure it out by watching an actual game. We could take the boys together!

    • Michelle

      That’s a GREAT idea! Max it from my house maybe?

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