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Guest Playing: Setting Expectations

Young soccer players across Ohio are seizing exciting new opportunities to show off their skills on unfamiliar fields as guest players. An increasing number of clubs and teams are in need of guest players - providing eager players with weekend adventures playing for different teams, giving them an opportunity to shine and test their talents against fresh competition. While the chance to excel is an enticing prospect for many young athletes, parents play an important role in supporting their kids during this journey. It's essential that parents are informed of the requirements and expectations of guest playing and provide their kids with the understanding, respect, and encouragement they need to thrive. By guiding players in the right direction, parents can ensure that their children have a positive and memorable experience.

Finding the right guest playing opportunity

Searching for guest playing opportunities doesn't have to be a daunting task if you know where to look. Ohio Soccer Moms and Dads (OSMD) maintains an online registry for players who are motivated to take part in guest playing both in Ohio and at out-of-state tournaments. While registering with OSMD doesn't guarantee you will find a match, it does increase your chances by sending out emails regarding guest playing opportunities and related information. Several Facebook groups also exist with the purpose of connecting players to teams needing last-minute additions. Many times event organizers of high-level tournaments and showcases may also include a list of players that can act as temporary replacements should someone on the team become ill or suffer an injury. By taking advantage of these resources and staying alert to potential guest playing opportunities, you'll be much more likely to find what you're looking for.

Once you have made contact with a club for a guest playing opportunity, communication is paramount. A friendly exchange of information allows both parties to feel comfortable and secure in the arrangement. Be sure to ask questions and listen attentively to the responses. If you find that the answers are either incomplete or cause uneasiness, then it may be wiser to decline the offer and look elsewhere. Ultimately, honest dialogue should prevail – if one side can’t provide it, then you may need to move on for the sake of your child and their experience.

When presented with an opportunity for guest play, make sure your child truly meets the requirements. Honesty is key: it's not worth the time and effort for any club to have to fact-check your claims about your player's skill level. Be upfront about any areas where your player may lack experience, and be sure that the opportunity is the right fit before moving forward. This way, everyone involved can save time and energy—and the outcome should be beneficial for all!

Preparing your player for guest playing

First and foremost, it's essential for players to understand that their role is one of support, not necessarily leadership. Most of the players already on the roster have likely invested money, time and energy into the team, so your primary role is to help them reach their goals. That said, if you want assurance that you'll receive meaningful playing time or play in a certain position, it's best to speak with the coach beforehand and ensure that this is the right fit for your child and to help them understand what to expect.

Guest playing is a great way for players to gain experience and grow their skills, but it does require extra preparation from both the player and parent. It is important to set expectations with your child in advance so they know what to expect. If your player has a higher level of skill than their new team, it can be beneficial to discuss prior to the game how they should interact with their teammates and remain respectful when scenarios arise which may cause frustration. Similarly, if your player is at a lower level of skill, it’s essential to prepare them for the likelihood of having less playtime or feeling challenged by the game. Keeping open communication ensures that your child can respect each team's individual differences while also maintaining a secure sense of self-worth.

Preparing your player for guest playing is essential. It's beneficial to give them the opportunity to meet and interact with their host team before the game, such as by attending training sessions or having meals together. If a meeting beforehand isn't possible, be sure to carefully follow all pre-game instructions and give yourself plenty of time to arrive at warm-ups early. Knowing exactly where you're going in advance and which field you're playing on will prevent any last-minute mishaps. Doing these preparations will help ensure that your player feels comfortable and confident heading into the game.

Preparing yourself for your child to guest play

When your child is guest playing, it's just as important to prepare yourself for the experience as it is to prepare them. Your role should be to show up and watch stress-free - not coach from the sidelines or engage referees. To ensure this, there are three steps you can take: introduce yourself to a couple of parents, cheer for everyone, and learn names. Remember to ask them questions about their player, but only give information about your child if asked - otherwise, competitive parent behaviors may be triggered. By keeping these things in mind, you can make this guest playing experience a great one for everyone involved.

By showing up with respect and understanding your role, your player can make a difference on the team and have an amazing time being a guest player.

Guest playing is a great way for young soccer players to learn and hone their skills in an unfamiliar environment. By taking the proper steps to prepare both your child and yourself, you can ensure that the guest playing experience is positive, enriching, and beneficial to your player's development. With honest dialogue and expectations set up front, guest playing can be an empowering and rewarding experience.

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