A few soccer seasons ago, one of my boys asked if we would pay him for every soccer goal he made.
One of his friends got $1 for every goal and another friend’s parents promised him $10 if he scored a goal.
But we did not then, and do not now, pay our kids for scoring a soccer goal, for a couple reasons.
The first being that my kids should want to do well on their own. If I have to pay my son to make him work hard, perhaps this isn’t the right sport for him. Over the years, some of my boys have switched to other sports, while my youngest continues playing soccer. Whatever sport they’re playing, I want them to enjoy it all on their own, not because there is some other incentive making them work hard.
Going along with that reason, I don’t want my kids to constantly think about what’s in it for them. If we pay for soccer goals, do we then have to pay for effort in other sports, for good grades, for anything they do to help around the house? I don’t want to go down that road. You don’t get monetary rewards for everything you do in life, there are just things that you want or need to do anyway.
But the most important reason we don’t pay our kids for soccer goals scored is that it can actually hurt them as players and hurt the team. If my son is focused on scoring goals, he’s not thinking about his team. He’s just heading to the goal to try to score. You might be wondering what’s wrong with that since you want your child’s team to score. But sometimes the better option is to pass the ball instead of shooting. My youngest is great at seeing that open man, feeding him the ball, and having that player tap the ball in.
It took a while for him to realize that having an assist like this is a good thing, that he’s a valuable player for being able to make plays like that. But if he was only thinking about that money for making the goal himself, his focus would change, he’d ignore the better play, and try to score on his own. And maybe he would make the shot some of the time, but because he doesn’t think HE needs to be the one to score, if he sees someone who has a better angle or who is open, he has no problem passing. And that makes him a better player and teammate.
Plus, not every child plays up top. Defense and goalie are important, too. If scoring is all they’re thinking about, they could neglect what their coach is telling them to do or get upset when they aren’t playing a position where they have a lot of scoring opportunities.
It takes the whole team, all the different positions, defense, passing, and, yes, shooting on goal, to be successful. You might judge a game based on the final score, but all the players, all the plays that are made, help determine that score, not just who made the goals. Paying for goals puts too much focus on the individual in what is a team sport.
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