IS IT OKAY TO BRIBE YOUR CHILD TO PERFORM IN A GAME?
FROM CHRISTIE MARSHALL, Sport Psychology Consultant
Does your son share your concern, or is it something only you are concerned about? Bribes as motivators tend to work, but only in the short-term. They don’t exactly instill desire to do the activity for its own sake.
A very important skill for young athletes to develop is the ability to make decisions on the field on the fly. With more and more situational experience, this skill becomes highly honed. It requires them to observe and analyze a situation, decide on an appropriate course of action based on what they see and what their role is on the team. If your son becomes focused on taking more shots no matter what, he may be using that as an additional consideration during the decision-making process when perhaps it shouldn’t be or when it may go against what the coach or the team expects. This can give the impression that he is less reliable as a teammate.
The role of attacking midfielder includes many responsibilities in addition to taking those shots. To focus on only one aspect may take away from the desire or ability to master a complete game including ball handling, distributing the ball to set up teammates and anticipating what is about to happen. Being a playmaker isn’t always about scoring goals. You probably don’t intend to send the message that scoring is the most important, but that is the message that will likely be received. And depending upon your son’s desire for monetary reward, it can cause him to become uber-focused on that aspect, to the detriment of the rest of his game.
So is it “bad” to bribe him? I wouldn’t say “bad,” but it won’t necessarily get the result you desire in the long run. You can certainly challenge him to try to take more shots in a lower-pressure environment such as in team practice or just on his own or with you, where he can safely practice taking shots, even with the non-dominant foot. If this is something he, too, has concerns about and wants to work on, then a bribe is not necessary. He should have enough drive himself to become a more complete player.
I am not a sports psychologist although I wish I did pursue that role out of college, but I have been coaching a long time. I am totally against bribing a child with financial rewards. I have seen many parents try this attempt from rewarding goals, assists, shutouts, fouls and even yellow cards to encourage aggressive play! Bad Bad Idea. I think we need to teach and educate our players and explain why and what we want them to work on and improve. Reward them with praise not financial rewards. The reward should be the love of the game and achieving a goal or task that the coach has set for the player not what the parent wants.
FROM CHRIS PANAYIOTOU, Developmental DOC, Virginia Rush Soccer Club, and Technical Director
I do not think its appropriate to bribe a child or offer money for goals etc as this make the player focus on those things as opposed to their functions within the team. Players need to be purpose driven not trophy driven. Having to offer bribes would make the player externally motivated when in reality we want players to be internally motivated as this helps them focus on the process not the outcome. By offering a bribe to the player about the player makes the player self-full as opposed to being selfless.
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