May 21, 2008,
A.T. asks from Lockport, IL on May 19, 2008
Soccer Player Afraid of Soccer Ball
Our 7 year old daughter was always an asssertive and really good soccer player...until last fall when she injured her finger during soccer practice. There was a pile up of kids (one fell she fell on top and another kid fell on her). She ended up with a finger injury right at the growth plate. Because of the possible serious nature she couldn't play soccer, run, jump rope, do anything that might cause her to fall again and reinjure the area for 3 weeks or so. She is VERY active so it about killed her. She has since developed a huge fear of being hit by a soccer ball during games and practice and getting reinjured. I find this interesting since it wasn't a ball that hurt her in the first place. She will jump back when the ball comes toward her and has really lost her assertiveness...she is sometimes even timid. She still loves soccer and wants to keep playing but is scared. It just kills me to watch her. We have tried talking to her, reasoning with her (but she's 7 so that is useless)..but it isn't working. It is now almost a complete other season since this happened...what else can we do? Short of making her stand by the goal while we kick soccer balls at her what can we say or do that might help? Thanks so much.
So What Happened?™
Thanks to everyone who responded. It looks like a year is the key time here---we will wait it out. As tough as it is for us it's probably harder for her...thanks!!!!
A.B. answers from Chicago on May 21, 2008
Try finding something else for her to get involved in. If she's scared then she will never have any fun. She will get over it in time. I pulled my hamstring at the same age and had to sit out the season. It's horrible then, but now I look back and I found other things to do that were more stimulating. No Child want's Parents pushing them into something they might be scared of. Art, Running(cross country)ect... Good luck!
S. answers from Chicago on May 19, 2008
My son got his leg broke during a soccer game and we had the same problem. He was always aggressive and was a great goalie. His first game back, coach threw him in the goal and he tried to hide. He is now rocking it in the goal. Give it a lot of time. It took my son almost a year to get over his fears and a great bunch of boys on his team who cheered him on the entire time. His coaches took it slow and worked with him and he is better now than he was before. Just don't push!!! Give her time.
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M.R. answers from Chicago on May 19, 2008
Have you tried switching the ball while you play at home? Use a beach ball or one of those soft, plastic playground balls (not the heavy dodgeball). Start slowly by having her do ball-control activities ("let's see how many times you can tap the top of the ball alternating your feet in one minute"), to rolling the ball to her for trapping with the instep, then the thigh, and finally move up to passing back and forth. If she happens to get hit with the beach ball or the playground ball, chances are it won't hurt much at all. You might also want to make sure that your emotions are positively encouraging her to get back into the swing of things. Have her pass or throw the ball to you and make it seem really exciting and fun, to give her the idea that it is safe and enjoyable. If she is starting to get back into the soccer thing and gets hit with a ball and it startles her, don't make a big deal over it (of course if she is *truly* hurt, then the proper level of attention and care is necessary).
H.E. answers from Chicago on May 19, 2008
I think all you can do is be patient. She will overcome her fear on her own when she realizes she's safe again. Encourage her not to quit playing soccer and let her know its okay to feel a little scared. Paying too much attention to her fear of the ball might make her more timid. You really can't force her to be more assertive, its something she needs to come to grips with on her own and it will happen it just takes some time. My daughter is 9 now, and has been playing for 4 years. There was one year where she was hit in the face really hard bringing her to histeria.
She was always an aggressive player and I noticed her playing changed after that incident. It took about a year I would say until she was back to her normal game.
Also, I figured as they get older, they play harder and injuries are more common as well. She never expected to get hit that hard ever. Playing when they are five is much different that 7-9. Kids are more serious players and more aggressive and that might make her a little nervous about getting hurt too. I played soccer for 8 years myself and think that there will be a day when she will play like her old self! She just needs her condfidence back in that she won't get hurt everytime she runs after the ball.