How rituals can help children on match day

Lots of people like routine. It takes the surprise out of things and we know what to expect and when. Children are no different. And the next step on from routine is ritual, those quirky little things we ‘need’ to do in order to be sure everything will turn out right. It might be as simple as the way you stack the dishwasher, to taking a special handbag to an interview, or a lucky necklace. General routines and rituals that do not get the way of your everyday life and simply individual quirks. For those people where it affects their mental health or ability to be able to conduct everyday tasks, it can become a more serious problem and can develop into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Rituals provide security

Sportsmen and women are particularly susceptible to ritual because they come to associate the pre-game routine with success, and if the sequence is not followed, whatever it is, then a win is not going to happen. This may be something as simple as putting on their Junior Football Kits that you found at a site like on in a particular order, or wearing the same pair of socks for every big match.

Children will also find ritual beneficial. It provides security and a sense that everything will be ok, and if there is a team routine prior, the sense of belonging grows. Rituals differ from rules because they are not forced and they might be very personal to the team or the individual. They rituals that they develop can also help them to focus on the game ahead and be a part of what adults often refer to as ‘getting in the zone.’

The Telegraph shares more detail on the importance of routine in a child’s life.

Matchday rituals

It will only take a few weeks of practice to make something a habit, so it’s easy to introduce some positive rituals to your club. It might be part of the warm-up, positive affirmations about who they are and the game they play, finishing with a cheer or high fives all round. Even professional footballers and teams will have match day rituals that they take part in. Almost like a good luck charm of sorts.

Always be sure to leave on a positive note, even when the result wasn’t good. Something like making sure the coach says goodbye or well done to each player will leave a lasting impression.

With children and bonding a team together, don’t spend too long overthinking it. Playing football is what they love, and playing with their friends, so make sure any rituals you introduce are fun and light-hearted. Don’t make them seem like rules!


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