We know them all; the parents that scream from the sidelines. In essence, there is really nothing wrong with it as long as it is positive and encouraging to ALL children on the field. While the youth soccer player should be playing to fulfill their own (soccer) needs, they many times play to satisfy the hunger to success by the parents. Many parents see the success or lack thereof as a direct reflection of their upbringing of their child. It could not be further from the truth. What is a direct reflection on the upbringing is how the child handles a win or a loss. How he/she conducts him/herself before, during and after the game, that is a direct reflection!
I sometimes wonder what happens between the parking lot close to a soccer field and the moment the child actually sets foot on the field. How many times have we seen that the behavior by the parent towards the child suddenly totally changes from caring to screaming bloody murder. The words used by some parents would not withstand in a R rated movie…… To make matters worse, the car ride home is still to come. Words carry a lot of weight and the youth athlete parent needs to understand that. If a parent during the ride home complains about the coach and uses words that are inappropriate, the child will copy and will use the same words towards the coach. There goes the respect for the coach. When a parent trashes another player on the team, how do you think their baby is going to see that child next time they need to work together?
The only thing that they want to hear from parents is that you love to see them play and that you are proud of them no matter what. That’s all….., they know that they did or did not play well, you don’t have to reinforce that. Children are not stupid.
We understand that parents want to help their child when they are on the field and play the game. Coaching from the sideline is so common and well meant by the parent, but they don’t realize that they are doing great harm to their child’s development and autonomous thinking.
One of the reasons we use Play-Practice-Play is to encourage youth players to think on their own feet, for them to come up with the solutions to the questions the game is asking. If a parent now interferes with the thinking process and actually takes over the thinking process, they take away the opportunity for their child to develop in the player he/she can become. Think about it; when a parent (or coach for that matter) continuously yells out instructions and helps the player solve soccer problems the players are going to rely on that coaching. Game time is test time. I have never met a school teacher yell out answers to the students while testing. So why would we do that during a soccer game? Let the child fail, let them learn through mistakes, how hard it is to see and take for the parent.
Another factor that plays is that, as a parent, you might yell something totally different than what the coach wants the child to do! It is absolutely confusing for the child to hear two different types of instruction for the same situation. Does the player listen to the parent so he/she does not have to hear the end of it during the car ride home, or should the player listen to coach? Coach might bench the player for not doing what he/she told the player to do. CONFUSING! Leave the player alone, let them experiment, let them explore and let the coach do his/her job in a proper manner.
Coaching from the sideline, while meant with all love, is destructive for the holistic development of the child. It is absolutely dreadful!
Next time we will discuss age appropriate activities and reasonable expectations.
Quote of the Week:
The Road To Success is Filled with
Mistakes and that is OKAY!
Director of Professional Development
Total Soccer Development
US Soccer/ NJYS Coaching Instructor