It’s Okay To Push Back :: A Soccer Mom’s Confession

Soccer is a very intense and physical sport, at any level. The players are constantly in motion and the skill to dribble a ball with just your feet down a large field to score while others are constantly in your way is incredibly difficult and impressive if successful. That being said, competitive sports can become a bit aggressive once your child gets to a skilled level. It’s not just avoiding boundaries and running fast anymore. The players quickly learn that if they are aggressive enough, they can overpower an opponent and maybe even win the game. It becomes a whole new ball game both on and off the field.

As I’m quickly learning, aggressive behavior is somewhat tolerated in the game of soccer. Obviously, a player is not allowed to extend arms and hands to push another player, buuuut, other parts of your body can, in fact, be used to accomplish this very thing. Okay or not, it’s present on the field, even when there’s no ball around, and that’s what leads me to my next thought: If my son is getting shoved around to the point of falling and injury, your darn right I’m going to allow him to push back.


During my son’s 8u game, one particular opposing player’s sole job was to be on my son like white on rice. The opposing player’s shoulders and entire upper body were constantly being thrown into my son even when the ball wasn’t in play waiting to be kicked or thrown in. This boy clearly knew his assignment because my son could not break free and could not stay on his feet – even a couple of minor injuries transpired. But that’s what the refs are for, you say? Just as in any sporting event, the referees make judgment calls, and some get by them despite what coaches and other parents argue. So, this soccer mom had had enough and took matters into her own hands.

“Be aggressive!”

You can tell my son and his teammates came to play not push, but clearly this type of forceful performance was not going to end and could ultimately cost them the game. Now, I’m not condoning fighting or doing something just to harm another. What I did allow, and basically bellow across the soccer field, was “Be aggressive back, son!” It’s a bit unnerving because up until now, this was just a fun, innocent game my boy loved to play. It wasn’t a negative space, ever – just good, old-fashioned competitive fun. But, once he got the green light from his parents and coaches to match the opposing boy’s aggressive behavior, the game took a turn ultimately giving my son’s team the win.

Was that bad advice?

Am I condoning hostile behavior to get what one wants? Will my son take these lessons on the field and apply them off the field? I have no idea. At that moment, I saw my son defeated; I saw him injured; I saw him confused. I heard our coaches begging for penalties; I even heard the opposing teams’ parents yelling to their own kids, “Push him!” At that very moment, I did what I felt was the right thing in the name of soccer. Just as we teach our kids to always defend themselves when someone gets physical, the same goes for soccer. Sticking up for oneself is always encouraged both on and off any field in my book, and I guess sometimes that comes in the form of physically fighting for your space to hold your ground. If some upper body strength is what’s needed in the game, it’s ok to push back.

Jennifer Gonzales
Wife to my high school sweetheart, Ross, and mother to 5 children: Trip, Conner, McKenzie, Piper, and Sutton, I am a born and raised Southern Louisiana Lady. I am a graduate of Mt. Carmel Academy, received my Bachelor’s in English with a concentration in Secondary Ed. from LSU followed by my Master’s of Education from UNO, and for the past 15 years, I have been outwitting high school boys as an English teacher at Holy Cross School. When I’m not grading papers, driving to baseball practices, or making grocery runs, I can be found cheering on my LSU Tigers, cutting up with my girlfriends, and attempting DIY projects around the home. I’m all about sippin’ some wine during the sunset while the kiddos play in the yard and the hubby works the grill. I’m living my best mommy life these days and am always happy to share the journey with others!


  1. I’m team let them figure it out. We moved to Nola from Germany and the playgrounds and everywhere else- while parents curated the experience (endless play time, outdoors, amazing hobbies- acrobatic horseback riding!?) they were not involved in how their children utilized it…it seems like their young adults are adjusting to adulthood a lot better than ours…I’ve taken a page out of their parenting book.


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