- Can you give us a bit of background information on yourself
Hi. I am Bobby Puppione and I am the Girls Academy Director at TSJ FC Virginia. I was formerly the Technical Director and Director of Coaching at CUP/Cincinnati United and Cincinnati Development Academy. I have also been a US Soccer Youth National Team Assistant Coach and Youth National Team Scout. Past players are doctors, teachers, lawyers, nurses, business owners, coaches, many other professions, former pros and national team players, including including USWNT player Rose Lavelle. I have an USSF A License and US Soccer Academy Director License, and I am a US Soccer Grassroots Coach Educator. I received my undergrad and master’s degrees from the University of Alabama. I grew up outside of Oakland, California in the town of Castro Valley. I am married to Manya Puppione (Makoski). She is the head women’s coach at Marymount University, former pro, All-American, and US Youth National Team player. We have two labradanes, Charley and Timber.
2. How would you define a parent(s) role within the youth sports?
The role of a parent(s) in youth sports is to provide support for their child/children in a way that is positive without being over-involved in a “helicopter” fashion. Parents should provide emotional support so that their child/children develop a love for the game / activity. They need to remember these are children and not professionals, and success is not defined by winning.
3. What are the benefits of being a positive youth sports parents?
The benefits of being a positive youth sports parent include:
- Child developing a love for the game
- Child growing in the sport
- Child learning important life lessons through sport
- Parent enjoying the experience watching their child grow up and love the game.
4. Tell us a bit about how your parents supported you through the journey into becoming a player/coach/teacher?
My parents were very supportive of my journey. With sports, they always provided for me in what I needed, positively supported me without trying to coach me, and allowed me to succeed and fail. This allowed me to grow a deeper love for sports. They are both retired educators so they have a good understanding of learning, child development, and long-term growth. This has helped me become a better coach/educator with my club.
5. What advice would you give any youth sports parents, with a talented son/daughter and ambition also drive to reach the highest level?
My advice to players in youth sport is: Enjoy the journey. Make sure this is something YOU want and no one else. Don’t be afraid to say no / take a break / try something else.
My advice to parents in youth sports: Support your child’s journey in a positive way. Don’t hover over them and make it a job. Allow them to succeed and fail while helping keep things in perspective.
6. In your experience as a coach, how can uneducated and unsupported parents, effect player(s) (short & long term)?
Short Term – If players have too much pressure to succeed, the child will not perform their best and will not enjoy what they are doing. A player’s confidence will also be affected in a negative way. If a parent is contradicting what the coach is saying, this will lead to confusion with the player.
Long Term – Players will fall out of love with the game and becomes a “job”. Players will quit the sport. Players will resent their parents for what they went through as a child.
7. What advice would you give coaches/clubs regarding youth sports parents?
Coaches and clubs should make their teams’ parents involved in the process. There are many ways to do this. One way to include parents is to educate them on the philosophy, beliefs, and values of the organization. This will help them have a better understanding of what you are doing and why you are doing it. In addition, constant communication will allow the parents to have a better idea of what has happened, is happening, and will happen down the road. This leads to a clear understanding of what to expect. Including parents in the process leads to positive supporters of what you are doing with the players/team.
8.) What advice would you give youth sports parents for the car journey to and from youth sports practices and/or games?
The car ride to and from a practice or game can be beneficial or detrimental to a child/player. Each child is different and their needs are different. But here are some good tips: To the practice/game: Keep silent and let the child/player do their own thing (if that is what the child likes best). Talk to them about anything – but don’t coach them (if that is what the child wants). Tell them you love them, good luck, and try your best.
After the game: Tell them you love them. Tell them you enjoyed watching them compete. Get them a good meal and water/sports drink.
9.) What types of behaviours/mannerisms/comments would you encourage parents to demonstrate? Pre-During and Post training/match.
During a match, a parent should have good body language. If cheering, should be done at the right moments with a positive tone and without coaching. After the game, this should continue with good body language and positive tone and words.
10). What is next for you as a coach / club / organisation?
Our club is currently dealing with the Corona Virus pandemic. We are finding ways to stay connected with our teams while staying at home. We check on them as people and their well-being, and offer any support. They are players, but they are people first. Here are some of the other things we are doing:
We are using the Techne Futbol App (all players in our club have access). We can assign workouts, time trials, and activities for them to do each. Designed by Yael Averbuch. It has gone over very well and Yael has told us we are one of the top users in the app in the country. We are using SportsLab360 online to do soccer video, quizzes, and lessons.
Our players will also go in to their HUDL video accounts, watching video, and then answering some questions while tagging video with time code.We also developed a “Bingo Card” for them to do at home. We will adjust for different ages.We also have had college recruiting webinars for the players and parents.
We have also done some webinars, talks, and reading about how to deal with this mentally and how to stay positive during this time. And we have done video team meetings to talk about life, new things they have tried, soccer, and fun games.
Club Twitter: @TSJ_FCVirginia
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